People in California from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua may be pleased to learn about the extension of temporary protected status, or TPS, for these four countries by the Department of Homeland Security. TPS protects citizens of countries that are suffering from natural or human-caused disasters, allowing them to remain in the United States and receive work permits even if they would otherwise face difficulties staying in the country. The program is meant to provide temporary protection until the affected people's home nations recover.
However, given some of the severe conditions in the countries named under the TPS program, some people have been in the United States for over 20 years. Every 18 months, their status is renewed. As part of an overall campaign of challenges to existing immigration law protections, President Trump's administration has attempted to cut the program. However, these attempts have been challenged by lawsuits that are currently pending in federal court. In this context, the Department of Homeland Security filed a notice extending the TPS designation for these four countries until Jan. 2, 2020.
In October 2018, one federal judge prevented the administration from ending the TPS designation for the four countries; plaintiffs had argued that the decision was not based on the circumstances in these countries but rather on a separate political agenda. The Department of Homeland Security said that the extension was part of its compliance with the court order in that case. However, advocates warned that some people with TPS could still be at risk as another court case addressing TPS status for Honduras and Nepal remains pending.
TPS can be an important lifeline for people in the United States facing extremely difficult situations in their home countries. People who have TPS and are looking to adjust their immigration status or protect their rights may consult with an immigration lawyer about the options available.