On Wednesday, October 3, 2018 a federal judge from the ninth circuit of appeals blocked the administrations attempts to terminate Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a humanitarian program that provides work authorization and lawful immigration status for those from countries who have suffered a disaster and it is not safe for nationals of that country to return. In previous administrations, countries like El Salvador, who were generally unstable for nationals to return to, had been renewed. Over 300,000 people from these countries, many of whom have been living in the U.S. (and Marin County) for decades and have U.S. citizen children, would have lost their legal status within the next year – the earliest termination was set for November 2nd for Sudanese TPS holders.
The Judge found the plaintiff had merit-based arguments that raised serious questions about:
- That Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, as they changed how they made the decision of whether or not to renew TPS for certain countries without explaining their changed standards
- The serious question of whether it was from a discriminatory basis, namely to quote Judge Chen “Plaintiffs have also raised serious questions whether the actions taken by the Acting Secretary or Secretary was influenced by the White House and based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution.”
This ruling is a preliminary injunction – the judge still needs to make his final ruling, and it is likely that this decision will go to the Supreme Court.
What is important is that it grants these 300,000 TPS holders more time until the judge makes his final decision. He has ordered the government to maintain the status quo and calls on them to make an administrative plan within the next 15 days of how they will ensure no “implementation and/or enforcement of the decisions to terminate TPS for Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador, and Nicaragua” until the final decision is made (as quoted in the Judge’s text here).
This is only a temporary reprieve – this does not force the government to formally renew these TPS programs.
Crista Ramos, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that precipitated this decision and 14-year-old U.S. citizen daughter of a TPS holder from El Salvador, said when the decision was announced: “I was so happy when I found out about the judge’s decision. Ever since the TPS terminations were announced, I have been wondering how I can live a normal life if I am about to lose my mom. Today, my family and I are celebrating. Tomorrow, we will continue our fight for permanent status for TPS holders.”
Canal Alliance whole-heartedly shares Crista’s sentiment and call for a permanent protection for the many TPS holders who are part of our community and we will continue to fight. The TPS program has never had a path for permanent legal status and we encourage our Marin community as well as the larger community of immigrants and advocates to contact Congress with requests and comments regarding the need for permanent protection.
For more information on this decision, see:
Dara Lind’s excellent analysis on Vox
The National TPS Alliance’s timeline of the case’s development
Statement by the National TPS Alliance
See the full text of the decision here
Please note:Honduras and Nepal are not included in this lawsuit because these countries’ programs were terminated after the lawsuit was filed – we will keep you posted as updates emerge on this court case, for example if the decision is expanded to include these countries.