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We are all on temporary protected status

Gloria Meneses-Sandoval  |  Issue: November | December 2018
Save TPS Demonstrator

#SaveTPS Demonstrator


The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program that was granted to El Salvador was first put in place by President George W. Bush responding to two major earthquakes in January and in February of 2001 that forced the out-migration from that country. The devastating earthquakes killed more than 1,000 persons and displaced an estimated 1.3 million more.

El Salvador joined Angola, Burundi, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan as countries that were already designated under Temporary Protected Status for different reasons – some confronting ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. Haiti also suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 that placed that country under TPS. Congress created Temporary Protected Status in the Immigration Act of 1990.

TPS is similar to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in that there is a need to meet specific conditions with proof, apply for and pay fees. Both have renewal cycles of varying lengths. The legal protection allows refugees to stay and work in the United States legally when their home country wouldn’t be safe to return to.

Fast forward to 2017-2018 with President Trump. There are now 10 countries remaining with TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. As Trump has previously commented about his preference for white, European, moneyed immigrants – he intends to violate the rights of other immigrants.

His administration under the Department of Homeland Security now claims that conditions in Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Sudan no longer should fall under Temporary Protected Status. For example, it is estimated that 250,000 Salvadorans – not including their U.S. born children – who have been living in the United States for decades will lose their status and will either have to leave or look for any possible way to legally remain in the United States.

Trump’s DHS has ended TPS for seven out of nine countries that it has reviewed. Anxiety is building and putting those affected communities into motion.

On October 3, a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California issued a ruling in the case of Ramos et al v. Nielsen et al – blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to end TPS for 300,000 immigrants from various countries.

The lawsuit involved the case of Crista Ramos, a 14-year-old citizen whose mother is a TPS holder from El Salvador. This is only an injunction. It is likely that the TPS case will make its way to the Supreme Court, where the Trump administration is likely to prevail especially now that Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, Crista can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief: “Today, my family and I are celebrating. Tomorrow, we will continue our fight for permanent status for TPS holders.”

We are a country of immigrants. We are human beings who need to unite to defend our right to live. We must continue to resist these attempts to weaken us by separating our families and communities. These are not humane decisions. We must prepare for future fights.

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