TPS stands for Temporary Protected Status.
Shane Ellison, Deputy Executive Director and Legal Director, explained, “TPS is a form of protection created by Congress that is designed to offer refuge to nationals of certain countries where the conditions pose a danger to personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or a similar basis.”
Temporary protected status allows recipients to work legally and reside in the US without being deported.
Unfortunately, though the basis for granting TPS was created by Congress, Ellison said the discretion to exercise that authority is given to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
“Under the Trump administration, TPS designations have been terminated for four countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. TPS is set to expire for nationals of these later in 2018 and into 2019,” he said.
Sergio Sosa, Executive Director of the Heartland Workers Center said, “In November of last year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a letter to acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke that TPS was no longer needed in Central America or Haiti. TPS recipients from all these countries who were designated are being affected and now face an uncertain future.”
The number of people affected by the Trump administration’s decision to end TPS is close to 250,000.
Ellison explained, “Most of these individuals have resided in the U.S. for nearly two decades and have established significant ties to the U.S. Once the sunset dates pass, absent another option under the law, they will lose their ability to remain lawfully in the U.S. with work authorization.”
The results of this action will mean disruption to employers who rely on these workers. Ellison pointed out this will also be extremely destabilizing to families with TPS recipients.
He said there are no good choices for those affected, “They are being forced to consider now whether to return to a violent country, break up their family, or become undocumented by remaining in the U.S.”
So what about DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was granted to young individuals who were brought to the United States as children on or before June 15, 2007, before reaching age 16. DACA recipients must be in school or have a high school diploma or GED certificate. DACA allows students to work and reside in the U.S. legally without fear of deportation.
Right now, DACA is set to expire in March and many young people’s futures are uncertain.
“Congress and the President now hold in their hands the fate of 800,000 Dreamers who call this country their home. There is a lot of uncertainty due to a lack of action from the government to pass legislation that allows these young people to stay here or gain a path to citizenship,” said Sosa.
According to Ellison, individuals whose DACA was set to expire between September. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 were allowed to seek renewal prior to October 5, 2017. Apart from those who had already filed, everyone else lost their ability to seek renewal as of September 5.
Additionally, all individuals who would have become eligible to apply after September 5 are no longer eligible to apply.
“The end of DACA will affect nearly 800,000 young people. Beginning in early March 2018, they could begin losing their DACA at about rate of 1,000 per day,” said Ellison
And he said while there have been preliminary injunctions issued temporarily preventing the Trump Administration from effecting its rescinding of DACA, this is only a temporary fix. It is imperative for Congress to act in order to provide a long-term solution.
“People are very discouraged by the steady drum beat of anti-immigrant news. With the end of DACA and scheduled sunset of TPS for the above countries, the current administration is on pace to take away status for more than a million hard-working immigrants who currently have legal permission to remain and lawfully work in the U.S.,” Ellison said.
For their part, the Heartland Workers Center has many young people and leaders in the community that are working hard to advocate legislation that benefits and protects immigrants, who contribute so much to the community.
“We are also currently working on building a “Wall of Hope” to share the stories of DACA and TPS recipients as well as other immigrants and refugees. There is a lot of negative rhetoric about immigrants in the country right now and we want to allow people to learn about the stories of real people who are being affected and have contributed so much to our communities,” Sosa said.
Heartland Workers Center, heartlandworkerscenter.org, 402.933.6095
Immigrant Legal Center, immigrantlc.org, 402.898.1349