For hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their home countries because of natural and humanitarian disasters, Temporary Protected Status has served as their means of achieving a new life in the United States. This program has been in place for upwards of 30 years, offering sanctuary to people mostly from Central America and the Caribbean, although people from Nepal and Sudan also have come under its protection.
Now, however, President Trump seeks to end the TPS program. The Department of Homeland Security already rescinded TPS benefits for nearly 293,000 of the program's 300,000 participants. With the loss of their TPS status, these immigrants only have until September of next year to somehow change their immigration status or return to their home countries. Some of them have lived here for decades, and while both White House chief of staff John Kelly and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen favor a path to citizenship for them, Congress has yet to pass a bill to this effect.
One of the ideas being floated around Washington, D.C. is what the White House calls the “four pillars” approach. This idea calls for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigrants, and possibly TPS immigrants as well, to receive a path to citizenship in exchange for the other three pillars: funding for the wall across America's southern border with Mexico, cancellation of the diversity visa lottery and changing from family-based to merit-based immigration. To date, not enough members of the House and Senate have signed on to this comprehensive immigration reform proposal.
In the meantime, former TPS beneficiaries are in a state of reasonably panicked limbo. Naturally they want to stay in the U.S. with their families, but their only deportation option is to seek the advice and counsel of a knowledgeable immigration attorney to help them change their immigration status.
Source: The Hill, “Trump close to wiping out TPS program for immigrants,” Rafael Bernal, May 11, 2018
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