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Demonstrators held signs protesting the termination of Salvadorans’ Temporary Protected Status in front of the White House in 2018. Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Court decision overturns protections for TPS holders

News | September 17, 2020

OMAHA, Nebraska — On September 14, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a preliminary injunction preventing the Trump Administration from terminating Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for 300,000 people.  The TPS program, a humanitarian form of lawful immigration, has been in place since the 1990s providing safety for disaster-displaced immigrants and enriching our communities.

Secretaries of Homeland Security extended TPS eligibility to people from countries they designate because conditions in a foreign country prevent its citizens from returning safely. While the conditions affecting safety might be temporary, the program was created so that protections could extend if those conditions-which could outlast an individual’s life-persist and affect safety.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ reversal stems from a challenge to the administration’s first attempt to terminate TPS for several designated countries. When the Trump Administration took office, TPS provided safety and a chance at life to people from ten countries, including El Salvador and Haiti which were devastated by earthquakes in 2001 and 2010 respectively. Then Secretary Kirstjen Nielson executed the Trump Administration’s original terminations in 2018, even though evidence showed that people could not safely return to their home countries. These controversial terminations triggered legal challenges and federal court injunctions against termination from judges across the country. Since then, TPS recipients have remained in limbo because the government has continued to appeal these decisions.

Despite overwhelming evidence that people could not safely return to their home countries, this ruling means that TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti could be deported as soon as March 2021; and TPS holders from El Salvador could be deported as soon as November 2021. This impacts over 1,500 recipients in Nebraska, not to mention their 1,500 United States citizen children.

It is important to remember that people who were granted TPS continue to have valid immigration status until an official termination date. TPS holders are still eligible for driver’s licenses and work authorizations remains valid. Despite the preliminary injunction reversal, federal courts will continue to review and affirm or deny the lawfulness of the administration’s termination of the program.

Immigrant Legal Center will continue to stand in solidarity with TPS holders and their families leading this movement for justice. Only Congress, not the courts, has the power to provide permanent protection. Immigrant Legal Center calls upon our leaders in congress for a clean legislated pathway to citizenship for TPS holders.

Until then, we recommend that TPS-recipients explore immigration options that might permit them to continue their lives in the United States, where many have come to call “home,” after the programs possible termination in 2021. The Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline offers free, confidential intakes, for consultations and referrals call 1-855-307-6730.

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