HOUSTON – About two years ago, as part of its anti-immigrant policies, the Trump administration decided to terminate benefits under the temporary protection program known as TPS.
Under this program, a little more than 300,000 individuals from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan were temporarily protected against deportation due to force majeure incidents in their countries, such as natural disasters or wars.
For the Trump administration, the reasons why these immigrants had been protected had already been rectified, and therefore it was necessary to terminate the TPS program.
However, as you know, immigrant rights advocates did not sit idly by and took this decision to court. However, in this case, the result — for now — has not been as expected.
It turns out that in recent days the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision with two votes in favor and one against, to allow Trump to terminate TPS.
According to the majority (two judges), the court has no authority to review decisions to designate countries to receive TPS or to terminate such designations, as it is an authority of the secretary of the department of internal security.
The consequence of this decision, for the moment, is that those immigrants from Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan will lose their TPS as early as March 2021, while immigrants from El Salvador will lose it as early as November from 2021.
This means that, as of these dates, these immigrants — who have lived in the United States for years and years — can now be deported, unless they can find another way to legally stay in the United States.
The exception to deportation are Haitians, who are protected by a decision by a New York judge, who ordered that they not be removed.
But this is not all. The situation is further complicated, since in recent days the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a memorandum indicating that those TPS beneficiaries who travel outside the United States with a travel permit will be able to retain the status they had before travel (TPS), but that your new entry will not be considered legal for purposes of an adjustment of status application.
It should be noted that this would only affect people who have traveled after August 20 of this year. Therefore, this means that it will now be even more difficult to find another way to legally stay in the United States after the terms of TPS expire.
I also want to emphasize, furthermore, that while all this is happening, the Republicans in the Senate have prevented a bill proposing the designation of Venezuela for TPS from being adjudicated more quickly.
The saddest thing about all of this is that even assuming that this ninth circuit decision is appealed to the Supreme Court, with the recent departure of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the possible nomination of a conservative judge in her place, the court could be divided 6-3 in favor of the Conservatives, which could result in the validation of many of these policies of President Trump.
For now, I urge you, if you are TPS beneficiaries, to seek advice to find alternatives that allow you to continue legally in this country.
Remember that these expressions are educational in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If you or a family member is going through an immigration process and need legal help, I recommend that you consult with an immigration lawyer duly admitted to practice law and, above all, that you never entrust your case to notaries.
Naimeh Salem is a certified attorney in Texas practicing immigration law.