• Christopher Gunn

Temporary Protected Status—a humane immigration policy for the United States

Last week, a federal judge in California halted the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for citizens from several countries in Latin American and Africa.

Chances are, you’ve never heard of TPS—most people haven’t. However, it is one of the few purely humanitarian programs that the United States offers within our broader immigration policy. For those who qualify, it is a lifeline out of peril that is not otherwise available.

TPS can be a bridge for those affected by war, famine, or natural disaster.
TPS can be a bridge for those affected by war, famine, or natural disaster.

In simple terms, TPS is a program that permits citizens from certain countries to remain in the United States, with lawful status, until conditions in their home country improve to the point that it is safe for them to return.

Currently, TPS provides relief to citizens from the following nations: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. For most of those nations, TPS is available due to ongoing warfare in those respective nations; for others, such as Nepal and Liberia, TPS was conveyed to protect their citizens from instability rendered by ongoing health concerns that stem from natural disaster or disease epidemics, respectively.

Unlike other immigration programs, such as refugee visas or asylum, TPS is not designed to be a permanent or long-term designation.

In general, TPS is granted by the attorney general of the United States to citizens of named countries when the following qualifications are met:

— The applicant has continuously resided in the United States for a specified amount of time;

— S/he has not committed specified criminal or security-related acts that render him/her removable from the United States; and

— S/he applies for TPS within a window of time designated by the attorney general.

Curiously enough, late applications may be accepted if certain additional conditions are met; such conditions are generally related to the applicant’s status in the United States, or their relation to a person already eligible for TPS.

TPS grants certain rights to eligible persons, primarily protection from removal and work authorization.

Of the current nations afforded TPS, Honduras and Nicaragua have held it the longest—since 1998, in response to Hurricane Mitch. Most other nations have received the TPS designation within the last 10 years. No current designation is set to continue beyond March of 2020.

As stated above, the Trump administration has moved to end TPS for several nations. Such attempt has been temporarily halted by a federal judge, due to the possibility that the administration’s intentions are rooted in “animus against nonwhite, non-European immigrants in violation of the Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution.”

If you have questions about TPS, or other options for immigrants to come or stay in the United States, call the Beck & Gunn Law Office at (785) 235-3415, or send an email to bglawks@gmail.com. Christopher Gunn can sit down with you or a loved one and discuss what options are available. Initial consultation is always free.

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