U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has stated that it will issue a notice shortly regarding the fate of Temporary Protected Status, better known as “TPS,” for several countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa, potentially putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation. This comes in the wake of the decision by the Trump Administration to end DACA, a program that protected people who entered as children from deportation.
Like DACA, TPS is a temporary stay on deportation and affords employment authorization while the status is in effect. It applies to people from specified countries, who came to the United States during tumultuous times in their respective native countries and, for the most part, have been in the United States for several years. For instance, people from El Salvador must have entered the United States prior to March 2001 (following a devastating earthquake); people from Somalia in September 2012 (following years of civil war); and people from Haiti in July 2011 (also following a terrible earthquake). Ten countries in all currently have TPS designation: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
These designations are made by the Executive Branch, and the Trump Administration is now assessing which countries, if any, will remain on the TPS list. A substantial change in TPS designation would have immediate and tangible effects. Currently, more than 300,000 people living and working in the United States have TPS, with a large percentage of those coming from El Salvador. The elimination of TPS would cause an abrupt disruption to the workforce. According to the Center for Migration Studies, there are more than 10,000 TPS employees in each of the employment areas of construction, restaurant and food services, landscaping, and childcare, and almost 10,000 in grocery stores. Additionally, because the requirements for residence in the U.S. are so long for certain countries, many TPS designees have been in the U.S. for 10, 20, or more years, and they are parents to more than 270,000 U.S.-born, American Citizen children – a fact that undoubtedly complicates the issue of TPS termination and resulting deportation.
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