Temporary Protected Status

The Biden Administration has given temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of persons through the use of the Temporary Protective Status program and through Humanitarian Parole. In this posting I address TPS. In 2019 there were about 400,000 persons covered by TPS. After action the Biden Administration in September, over a million will be covered. They will account for about 650,000 workers.

The Trump Administration attempted to terminate some authorizations but were frustrated by the courts. No immigration program since the passage of the 1986 has accelerated legal status in the U.S. more than TPS. It is, I believe, reasonable for a TPS benefiary to think that they have a very good chance of becoming a legal permanent resident.

(The best in depth reviews of TPS are here and here.)

Congress enacted the Temporary Protective Status program as part of the immigration act of 1990 to establish a uniform process and standard for granting temporary humanitarian protection in the United States, for non-citizens already in this country whose home countries are in crisis.  This provision was in part a response to a 1947 U.N. Protocol on refugees.

TPS designation can be for an initial period of anywhere from 16 to 18 months and extended indefinitely for periods for up to 18 months. The program is designed for people who cannot return safely due to their home countries due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental the disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. While the designation formally is temporary, the designation can lead to a more permanent status.

Nearly 93 percent of current TPS holders are from Latin American countries, particularly El Salvador, Haiti, and Venezuela, where a worsening humanitarian crisis has caused more than seven million people to flee the country. Hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans have been allowed to stay in the United States since devastating earthquakes rocked El Salvador in 2001. Haiti was first assigned TPS after a massive earthquake destroyed much of the country in 2010, and it received the designation again in 2021 and 2022 amid continued violence and a prolonged political crisis. Honduras and Nicaragua were given TPS after a hurricane battered the region in 1998. Countries that have previously received TPS include Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Liberia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. (Go here).

In March 2019, some 400,000 citizens from 10 countries were covered by TPS, per the Congressional Research Service. As of March 2023, about 610,000 citizens of 16 countries have been granted TPS. In September 2023 the Biden Administration allowed 472,000 Venezuelans to be covered, adding to the some 250,000 Venezuelans already covered by TPS. Some arrived into the U.S. illegally, and they are prevented from moving to a more permanent status. Many have been here for years, integrating into the economy and raising children.

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