Yorktown Sentry

Lasting Effects of Temporary Protected Status?

TPS+stands+for+Temporary+Protected+Status%2C+a+program+that+has+given+over+300%2C000+people+homes+in+the+United+States.+
TPS stands for Temporary Protected Status, a program that has given over 300,000 people homes in the United States.

TPS stands for Temporary Protected Status, a program that has given over 300,000 people homes in the United States.

Courtesy of Center for American Progress

Courtesy of Center for American Progress

TPS stands for Temporary Protected Status, a program that has given over 300,000 people homes in the United States.

Sofia Dalton, Sentry Staff Reporter

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In the past four months, news headlines have been splattered with pictures of people from all walks of lives holding signs that say “Save TPS,” “Defend TPS” and “Protect TPS.” This three letter acronym stands for Temporary Protected Status, a program that has given over 300,000 people homes in the United States. TPS allows foreign-born individuals to stay in the U.S. if their country has been designated as eligible for TPS. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS because conditions in that country temporarily prevent its people from returning safely, or they prevent its government from adequately handling the return of its citizens. Recently, the Trump Administration has terminated the TPS designation for certain countries, sparking outrage from TPS holders, immigration activists and ordinary people who recognize the devastation this will have on countless families and hardworking people who have worked to make this country their home.

TPS was first set up by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990. It helps people from countries destabilized due to war or other types of catastrophes. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or other temporary conditions. Currently, there are ten countries protected under TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The largest group of people with TPS protections come from El Salvador, followed by Honduras and then Haiti.

Individuals who receive TPS protections cannot be detained because of their immigration status, and they can generally get work permits and driver’s licenses. However, it is a temporary benefit and does not lead to citizenship, but people who have registered for TPS can still apply for another immigration status. TPS is subject to government review and can be extended for a maximum of 18 months.

The Trump Administration’s anti-immigration agenda has greatly impacted TPS. On Nov 20, 2017, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, Elaine Duke, announced that they were terminating TPS protections for Haiti, giving Haitians until July 22, 2019 before their immigration status goes back to what it was prior to TPS. They will either have to find a legal way to stay in the U.S., remain here illegally or be deported. Haitians were first granted TPS after the devastating 2010 earthquake. According to a press release from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Duke made the decision to end TPS for Haiti based on the progress they have made since 2010. There are now less displaced people in Haiti and measures have been taken to improve the quality of life for Haitians. Haiti is now in a better position to receive high levels of their citizens back into the country.

TPS has also been terminated for Nicaragua. On Nov 6, 2017 it was announced that the TPS designation would be ended for Nicaragua, with a delayed effective date of Jan 5, 2019. Like Haitians, Nicaraguans with TPS will have to find a legal way to remain in the U.S. or return to Nicaragua. Nicaragua received TPS status in 1999 following the deadly, category five Hurricane Mitch. Duke determined that temporary yet considerable conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist, therefore the original reason for the TPS designation is no longer applicable. 2,500 Nicaraguans are protected by TPS, and this decision will impact the lives of all these people who have established roots in the U.S., some of whom have been here for as long as two generations.

The largest group of individuals affected by the ending of TPS are those from El Salvador. Around 200,000 Salvadorans receive TPS protections. The announcement was made on Jan 8, 2018 by the current Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen M. Nielsen. El Salvador’s designation for TPS was based off of a disastrous earthquake that hit the country in 2001. Nielsen found that the original conditions that warranted the designation no longer exist, and therefore TPS will be terminated for El Salvador. Since 2001, El Salvador has received international aid and has been able to reconstruct schools and hospitals that were damaged. Also, in recent years the U.S. has been sending more Salvadorans back to El Salvador. In the last two years, more than 39,000 have returned, which, according to the press release, shows that El Salvador is now able to adequately receive more of its citizens. TPS for El Salvador will terminate on Sept 9, 2019.

However there are still many issues surrounding the termination of TPS, and immigration activists denounce the decision. TPS holders have established lives in the U.S. Many of them own homes, have families which include children born in the U.S. and a vast majority of them are employed. According to the National Immigration Forum, a survey found that 88.5% of TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras are employed. The Center for Migration studies found that TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras have an estimated 273,000 U.S. born children. The ending of TPS for certain nations will greatly impact these families; parents will have to decide whether to split up their family or risk staying in the U.S. illegally and possibly being deported.

The nations where TPS will be terminated still face a variety of challenges. El Salvador has the highest homicide rate for a country not at war – 108 per 100,000 people in 2015 – according to the Washington Post. According to El Salvador’s government institution, the Instituto de Medicina Legal, there was an average of nearly one homicide per hour in the first three months of 2016. A large amount of gang violence and poverty still exists in El Salvador. Haiti also faces substantial challenges. The World Bank reports that Haiti is still the poorest country in the Americas, and it is one of the poorest countries in the world. While conditions and the economy in Nicaragua are improving, Nicaraguans, like all groups protected by TPS, have created a life here and some have been here for almost two decades.

TPS has allowed people to escape terrible circumstances and come to the U.S. to establish successful lives. While the original conditions that warranted the TPS designation for El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua are no longer prevalent, these countries still face lasting problems. TPS holders from these nations are faced with an extremely difficult decision and may be forced to leave the place they now call home. The ending of TPS is definitely a controversial issue; TPS was meant to be a temporary solution but has turned into more of a permanent status for many. Its termination will have a momentous impact on thousands of lives and is more fuel to the fire in the immigration debate.

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Lasting Effects of Temporary Protected Status?