Science tells us the one-speed rule of the universe – nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (about 670,616,629 miles per hour).
President Trump came as close as one can to violating this speed rule at the outset of his presidency in wanting to end Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) faster than a hot knife through butter.
TPS is a temporary immigration benefit that allows citizens of countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, famine, epidemic, or other dangerous conditions to remain in the U.S. and work legally. TPS was created by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans in Congress in 1990 as a bipartisan form of humanitarian goodwill. Oh my, how time has changed. At the start of President Trump’s administration, approximately 330,000 immigrants in the U.S. from 9 countries benefited from TPS. The largest group of TPS recipients being citizens from El Salvador (195,000 people) followed by Honduras (57,000 people) and Haiti (50,000 people). President Trump’s administration terminated TPS for Sudan in September 2017, Haiti and Nicaragua in November 2017, El Salvador and Syria in January 2018, Nepal in April 2018, Honduras in May 2018, and Yemen and Somalia in July 2018. All this, despite countless U.S. and international reports confirming the dangerous conditions in the above-mentioned countries.
When it seemed all hope was lost, a hero appeared in the form of Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court Northern District California who on October 03, 2018 granted a motion for preliminary injunction, thus stopping the government from terminating TPS for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. The motion was brought before Judge Chen via Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al, a class action lawsuit of Salvadoran, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Sudanese TPS recipients who boldly challenged the government’s decision to eliminate their protections.
The preliminary injunction is effective immediately and will remain in effect if and until a final solution in the case or further order from the court. This decision is a remarkable victory in the fight to protect TPS for Salvadorans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Sudanese, but it does nothing for Hondurans, Syrians, Nepalese, Yemenis, or Somalis – their fight continues. As with most government action, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has yet to release specific information on how they will enact the decision of Judge Chen. As of the date of this article, DHS states, “Additional guidance with respect to evidence regarding TPS status and employment authorization is forthcoming.” Let us hope that by “forthcoming” they mean “soon.”
Alfredo J. Bonilla is an attorney at the Law Offices of Manuel Solis, PC, based in Los Angeles and practices family-based immigration and U.S. citizenship law. He is currently serving as the Southern California American Immigration Lawyers Association Chapter State Advocacy liaison.