Originally published August 9, 2018. Last updated June 7, 2023.
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)? A quick overview:
Passed by Congress into law under the administration of President George H.W. Bush in 1990, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has been used to protect immigrants fleeing natural disasters, political instability, and humanitarian crises. This status allows immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S. when they cannot safely return to their home countries.
In addition to temporarily granting lifesaving protections to refugees seeking asylum from dangerous conditions, TPS is a beneficial tool that boosts our local and national economies while also helping create stability in immigrants’ home countries through remittances. Immigrants who hold TPS contribute billions in local, state and federal taxes annually, and pay into Social Security and Medicare. Many have lived here for years, have U.S. citizen children, and have deep ties in our nation.
Every administration has the legal authority to immediately designate, re-designate and extend TPS, and given the devastation from climate disasters, widespread violence, economic and political instability, as well as the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden Administration absolutely must use it to expand TPS to other countries.
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TPS UNDER TRUMP
Under the Trump Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a habit of terminating or failing to re-designate each country whose TPS renewal deadline was approaching. After a TPS designation expires, the status of its recipients returns to the status they had before the TPS distinction was made, making them vulnerable to deportation. DHS tried to end TPS designations even as experts at the State Department warned that ending the program could hurt national security and economic interests, increase undocumented immigration, and bolster the MS-13 gangs that Trump constantly talked about. By the end of the Trump administration, TPS relief was finally extended until October 2021 for those from Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan due to litigation against the Trump administration in the Ramos v. Nielsen and Bhattarai v. Nielsen case.
TPS UNDER BIDEN
In September 2021, the Biden Administration announced a 15 month automatic extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for all current beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Nepal and Sudan. This extension comes after months of litigation, organizing, and advocacy by TPS holders and allied groups. But continued negotiations between plaintiffs and the Biden Administration reportedly broke down the following year, a move that threatened to leave hundreds of thousands of program beneficiaries at risk of deportation.
Thankfully, extensions were subsequently announced for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Nepal and Honduras, ensuring their work permits and protections from deportation remain in place until summer 2024. TPS holders from Haiti and Sudan have also won similar extensions.
Earlier in 2023, the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a 2020 ruling that favored the Trump Administration’s decision to end TPS. “Granting a request by attorneys representing immigrants enrolled in the TPS programs, the appeals court said it would hear the case once more, this time ‘en banc,’ or with all active judges participating,” CBS News reports. “It’s unclear though when the 9th Circuit could rule on the case again.” Thus, the Biden Administration has every legal authority to continue and expand TPS for Central America.
The Biden Administration also added a number of other nations to the list of TPS-designated countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Venezuela. According to the Congressional Research Service, as of February 2022, there are approximately 354,000 foreign nationals with TPS from 12 countries: Burma, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
“In addition, in March and April, 2022, the Biden Administration announced new designations for Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Cameroon,” Congressional Research Service said. “Certain Liberians, Venezuelans, and residents of Hong Kong living in the United States currently maintain relief under DED.”
What is ramos v. nielsen? what is bhattarai v. nielsen?
When the Trump administration attempted to end TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, nine TPS recipients and five children of TPS-holders sued the government. According to the National TPS Alliance, the plaintiffs cited evidence that the decision to terminate TPS was motivated by racism in violation of the constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act since it set a new standard for TPS decisions without formal explanations. In September 2020, the court ordered a preliminary injunction, or preservation of the status quo, until the lawsuit continues. A year later, Biden extended TPS while the case is currently still on-going in the appellate court.
Almost shortly after Trump attempted to end TPS for the foreign nationals represented in the Ramos v. Nielsen case, he attempted to terminate TPS for Honduras and Nepal. Six TPS-holders and two children of TPS-holders sued the government once again under a new lawsuit Bhattarai v. Nielsen. As is the case in the Ramos v. Nielsen case, an injunction remains in place, allowing for the extension of TPS for Honduran and Nepali nationals.
According to the National TPS alliance, both lawsuits state four reasons why terminating TPS is illegal:
- School-age U.S. citizen children have the fundamental constitutional right to live in the U.S. But they also have the fundamental right to live with—and be raised by—their parents.
- The government illegally changed the rules for how DHS determines whether to extend or terminate TPS, without any formal announcement and without going through required procedures.
- DHS’s decisions to terminate TPS were based on intentional discrimination in violation of the Constitution.
- DHS violated TPS holders due process rights when it applied new, unexplained standard to TPS decisions and made TPS decisions based on discriminatory reasons.
CURRENT TPS POPULATIONS
|Most recent decision
|Required Arrival date
|Individuals w/ TPS
|March 15, 2022
|Nov. 20, 2023
|Extension & Redesignation
|Sept. 25, 2022
|May 25, 2024
|April 14, 2022
February 13, 2001
|Dec. 7, 2023
|Oct. 20, 2022
January 12, 2011
|June 12, 2024
|Nov. 6, 2022
|August 3, 2024
|December 30, 1998
|June 30, 2024
|June 24, 2015
|June 30, 2024
|December 30, 1998
|June 30, 2024
|Extension & Re-designation
|Jan. 11, 2023
|Sept. 17, 2024
|Redesignated & extended
|January 25, 2016
|Nov. 23, 2023
|March, 1, 2022
|November 3, 2023
|January 9, 2013
|June 30, 2024
|March, 1, 2022
|Nov. 3, 2023
|Extension & Re-designation
|July 28, 2022
|March 31, 2024
|April 11, 2022.
|Roughly 96,000 eligible
|October 19, 2023
|March 8, 2021
|Roughly 323,000 eligible
|March 10, 2024
|Extension & Re-designation
|Dec. 29, 2022
|Sept. 3, 2024
*Extended due to Ramos v. Nielsen
** Extended due to Bhattarai v. Nielsen
*** New Designation for Sudan and South Sudan
WHAT IS THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TPS HOLDERS?
Temporary Protected Status holders are integral parts of our national economy, along with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders paying billions of dollars in taxes annually. In fact, nearly 80% of TPS holders are in the workforce, holding more than 600,000 jobs, FWD.us said. One survey of Honduran and Salvadoran TPS holders found nearly 90% are employed. They are integral parts of our national economy.
Because many have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more — some Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders have lived here for double that — they’ve also made long-lasting contributions to their communities through their taxes, home purchases, and small businesses, the National TPS Alliance said:
- TPS and DED holders pay an estimated $4.6 billion a year in local, state and federal taxes, “including personal income, property, sales and excise taxes”
- TPS and DED holders “contribute billions of dollars that help pay for roads, schools, and yes, even government salaries. If TPS & DED beneficiaries leave the US will lose $35.2 billion in economic growth via GDP”
- TPS and DED holders contribute nearly $700 million to Social Security annually — funds they’ll never be able to access unless they can adjust their status. TPS holders from Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras alone have contributed nearly $7 billion to Social Security and Medicare over a decade, the National Immigration Forum said
According to the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), TPS holders also hold essential jobs in healthcare, the food industry, transportation, construction, and other essential occupations. More than 131,000 of these essential workers hail from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti alone, and carried out their work during the novel coronavirus pandemic at risk to their own health. It should not be lost that many of the TPS holders targeted by the Trump Administration would later be deemed “essential.” More from CAP and ILRC:
- An estimated 11,600 healthcare workers today have TPS, including 8,100 home health and personal care aides, nursing assistants, orderlies, and psychiatric aides; 1,900 health technologists and technicians; 1,300 other healthcare support.
- 76,100 TPS recipients work in food-related industries, including 3,900 TPS holders working in farming and agriculture, 11,700 in food manufacturing, 4,700 in food-related wholesale trade, 11,600 TPS holders in food warehousing, transportation, and delivery. Not to mention the 8,400 TPS holders that work in grocery stories and the 28,800 that work in restaurants and food establishments.
- Between Salvadorans and Hondurans TPS holders alone, there are roughly 50,600 construction workers.
- An estimated 15,800 TPS holders work in landscaping services.
- 6,900 TPS holders work in transportation and warehousing services, 4,100 work in automotive repair and maintenance, 12,700 work in manufacturing plants, 3,300 work in waste management.
- 10,000 TPS holders work in child care services.
Roughly 500,000 people total hold Temporary Protected Status, though many more, about 350,000, are eligible for relief but for varying reasons have not applied. FWD.us found that collectively these individuals contribute more than $22 billion in wages to the economy. Efforts to encourage TPS-eligible immigrants to apply for relief would not only be to their own benefit, but the nation’s as well.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF TPS HOLDERS LOST THEIR EMPLOYMENT?
According to 2017 data from Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), ending TPS just for Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS holders alone would have vast fiscal repercussions:
- Cost taxpayers $3.1 billion dollars if individuals are deported
- Reduce Social Security and Medicare by $6.9 billion over a decade
- Lead to a loss of $45.2 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over a decade
- Result in $967 million of turnover costs
- Risk 61,000 households walking away from their mortgages
And since most TPS holders reside in major metropolitan areas in Florida, New York, California, Maryland, and Virginia, the impact of removing TPS from these individuals and leaving them without employment would be catastrophic not only for impacted individuals, but for complete communities that rely on the labor of TPS recipients.
TPS KEEPS FAMILIES TOGETHER
TPS is a policy that fundamentally reflects a core American value: family and work. Roughly 280,000 U.S. citizen minors live with at least one TPS-holding family member, according to 2019 data from the Center for American Progress. Some Haitian, Honduran, and Salvadoran beneficiaries have lived here for more than two decades, meaning many have families and deep roots here in America.
Discriminatory efforts by the Trump Administration to terminate TPS for half a dozen nations including El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras could have had catastrophic results. TPS rescissions could have forced families to separate, forced families to uproot U.S. citizen children from their birthplace, or forced families to live in the U.S. under a cloud of deportation. “Without some form of protection like TPS, children of people who are undocumented experience the fear of family separation, which causes toxic stress and can have long term negative effects on children’s physical and mental health,” First Focus on Children said.
In three states alone (California, Florida and Texas), nearly 130,000 U.S. citizen minors under 18 years old live with a family member who holds TPS, the Center for American Progress said. Enacting or extending TPS for eligible nations protects the well-being of U.S. citizen children by keeping families together.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
“Temporary Protected Status is one of the most impactful humanitarian tools in the federal government’s tool chest, and with a stroke of the pen can bring stability and certainty to the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Some TPS holders have called the United States their home for as long as two decades. They’ve paid taxes, built families and homes, and have been integral members of their communities. During the pandemic, thousands were in the front lines, providing direct patient care or support. Thousands of others provided critical grocery or food service labor, and helped keep our nation fed. To now force them to return to unsafe conditions would not only be at detriment to our nation and economy, it would be a moral failure. TPS holders are our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and to a quarter of million U.S. citizens children, cherished loved ones. We must do right by them and stand by them as they’ve stood by us.”
WHO CAN MAKE A TPS DESIGNATION? WHY?
Under the law, the secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a foreign country for TPS in three scenarios:
- Ongoing armed conflict (such as a civil war)
- An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic; or
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent nationals from the country from safely returning home.
HOW LONG IS A TPS DESIGNATION?
The country’s designation can last as little as six months (the minimum) or as long as 18 months, the maximum.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DESIGNATE, RE-DESIGNATE, OR EXTEND TPS?
When DHS “designates” a country, the DHS Secretary acknowledges that a specific foreign country is too dangerous or unstable for nationals of that country who are already in the U.S. to return to. They must provide a rationale for why foreign nationals would face unsafe conditions that would put them at risk of violence, disease, or death if they returned. This designation is typically set for 18 months before the status is reviewed.
Upon review, DHS can choose to “re-designate” TPS for foreign nationals of a particular country, which extends TPS to a new set of immigrants who have fled the destabilized country. For example, if a country is torn by a civil war and that war is still ongoing 18 months after the original designation, DHS may re-designate the country in order to extend the protection to those immigrants who arrived after the original designation.
DHS may also “extend” the designation. This means that immigrants who already had TPS receive an extension on their status but no new immigrants from said country are granted TPS.
- Designate: DHS Secretary acknowledges that a specific foreign country is too dangerous or unstable for nationals of that country who are already in the U.S. to return to (must be in the U.S. before a specific date)
- Re-designate: new immigrants are granted TPS for the same reason that previous TPS holders from that same country were granted TPS.
- Extend: no new immigrants granted TPS; those who already have it receive an extension of status.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TPS ENDS FOR A DESIGNATED GROUP? WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?
Sixty days prior to the end of an initial designation or re-designation period, the Secretary of Homeland Security must review the conditions of the foreign country to determine if the unsafe conditions still exist. If conditions continue, the secretary may extend TPS for another six, twelve, or 18-month period. There is no limit on the number of times the secretary may extend TPS, so long as the conditions continue.
CAN A TPS DESIGNEE GAIN EMPLOYMENT?
Yes. If TPS is granted, the applicant receives protection from deportation and work authorization to support themselves while they remain in the U.S.
CAN A TPS DESIGNEE GET CITIZENSHIP?
No. By statute, TPS does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship. While legislation creating a pathway to legalization for some TPS holders twice passed the U.S. House, it did not advance to a vote in the U.S. Senate due to the Jim Crow filibuster.
WHY WERE THESE COUNTRIES DESIGNATED?
The Biden administration announced TPS for Afghanistan following the country’s fall to the Taliban in summer 2021. In a statement, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited attacks against civilians by both Taliban forces and religious fundamentalists, as well as “extraordinary and temporary conditions,” in why it is unsafe for nationals to return. Some of these extraordinary and temporary conditions include an economic crisis, food and water insecurity, human rights abuses and destruction of infrastructure.
In his statement, Mayorkas said that most of the tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. through 2021’s Operation Allies Welcome could be eligible to apply for TPS. Because both the special visa and asylum systems are so heavily backlogged, this could provide important relief while lawmakers continue efforts to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Burma was designated for TPS on May 25, 2021 because the overall human rights violation deteriorated after a coup by the Burmese military. In their designation, USCIS noted the increasing oppression and violence by the military towards any resistance, including arbitrary detentions and deadly force against unarmed individuals, and overall brutal violence against people, including children.
TPS for Burma was extended and redesignated for an additional 18 months in September 2022, citing continued instability and brutal force against civilians by security forces. The Biden administration said that the extension and expansion of TPS for Burma would protect 970 people currently enrolled in the program, and expand relief to 2,290 additional people.
In a historic designation, Cameroon was named for TPS in April 2022 due to ongoing armed conflict that included extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists. “Extreme violence and the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure have led to economic instability, food insecurity, and several hundred thousand displaced Cameroonians without access to schools, hospitals, and other critical services,” the Biden administration announced.
Cameroon’s designation was a victory for Black immigrants and Black-led organizations that had been leading a years-long fight for protections. As Human Rights Watch said in one report, Cameroonian asylum-seekers who were deported from 2019 to January 2021 faced abuses following their return, including arbitrary arrest, extortion, and rape. One deported man who was assaulted by military members told researchers that they were aware he’d been removed from the United States.
El Salvador was designated for TPS under President George W. Bush. El Salvador was struck by a catastrophic 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 13, 2001, and further devastated by two powerful aftershocks a month later. The series of earthquakes resulted in 1,100 deaths and left more than 2,500 people missing. Nearly 8,000 suffered injuries. Seventeen percent of El Salvador’s population (1.3 million people) were displaced by the earthquakes and resulting landslides. The earthquakes caused more than $2.8 billion in damages, including the destruction or damage of 220,000 homes, 1,696 schools, and 856 other public buildings.
Since 2001, the country has remained unstable for the safe return of Salvadoran TPS holders. In the 2016 to 2018 extension of TPS for El Salvador, the U.S. government cited the dire conditions brought about by numerous subsequent natural disasters, including hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, volcanic seismic activity, prolonged drought that caused widespread food and water insecurity, the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, lack of housing and electricity, and gang-related insecurity. Salvadoran TPS-holders will keep their status through June 30, 2024 due to the ongoing Ramos v. Nielsen litigation.
Ethiopia received its first TPS designation in October 2022 due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions, which are two of three statutory bases for designation. In its announcement, DHS cited civilians at risk of conflict-related and gender-based violence, as well as a humanitarian crisis involving severe food insecurity, large-scale displacement, and the impact of disease outbreaks as reasons why nationals currently in the U.S. are unsafe to return.
Like in the case of Cameroon’s designation, the announcement was a victory for advocates within the Ethiopian community, who had steadily been urging for the nation’s designation with no action from the Biden administration. The Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure Administrative Advocacy Coalition (TPS-DED AAC) noted Ethiopia’s delay “flies in the face of Congressional intent and calls into question racial disparity in TPS decision-making.” In just one example, Cameroon’s designation this past April was won only after several years of advocacy. For comparison, Ukraine’s designation for TPS came within 10 days of Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, the most violent earthquake in the country in 200 years. Much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince was destroyed. One and a half million people were displaced. Within days, DHS granted TPS to eligible Haitians who had been in the U.S. on or before the date of the earthquake. In 2011, eligibility was extended to people who came to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons in the year following the earthquake.
Haiti and Haitian nationals continue to face chaos amid political unrest after the assassination of Haiti’s President, violence, corruption, widespread poverty, and food insecurity in a country still reeling from a devastating earthquake in 2010 and other disasters. TPS for Haiti continues for those that were designated TPS in 2011, and was again re-designated December 2022 for newer applicants, the former extension thanks to the ongoing Ramos v. Nielsen litigation.
Honduras was designated for TPS under President Bill Clinton on Jan. 5, 1999. In Oct. 1998, Honduras was devastated by Hurricane Mitch, one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in modern history, with 150 mph winds and days of torrential rain. One-fifth of the Honduran population, 1.4 million people, were left homeless. More than 5,600 people were killed. Two-thirds of Honduras’ roads and bridges were destroyed, as well as banana, coffee and other agricultural plantations vital to the Honduran economy. The United Nations reported that Hurricane Mitch set Honduras back 20 years, both socially and economically.
Since then, Honduras has faced yet 2 other hurricanes in 2020: Eta and Iota. According to Amnesty International, these two hurricanes affected 4 million people across the nation and raised poverty levels by 10%. Homes were flooded and destroyed, livestock died, and agriculture was devastated. With this recent disaster, coupled with state repression, gang violence, economic insecurities, environmental damage, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise the impact that extending and re-designating TPS would have on Honduran nationals. Honduran nationals were granted TPS extension through June 30, 2024 due to the ongoing Bhattarai v. Nielsen litigation.
On April 25, 2015, Nepal suffered a magnitude 7.8 earthquake which affected more than 8 million people — roughly 25 to 33 percent of Nepal’s population. Approximately 9,000 people died and 22,000 were injured. More than 755,000 homes were significantly damaged or destroyed.
According to CLINIC, there continues to be housing issues and a destroyed infrastructure that restricts access to basic needs and services, health care and education and food and water. Civil unrest and a 2017 flood have slowed the recovery of this country, making the continual extension of TPS crucial to Nepali nationals in the U.S. Nepal TPS-holders will keep their status through June 30, 2024 due to litigation in the Bhattarai v. Nielsen order.
Nicaragua TPS was initially designated following devastating Hurricane Mitch that caused severe flooding in October 1998. The storm killed 3,045 peopleand 885 were reported missing, affecting nearly 868,000 people, destroying entire villages, and causing extensive damages to the transportation network, housing, medical and educational facilities, water supply and sanitation facilities, and the agricultural sector.
Nicaragua was set to be terminated during the Trump administration, as DHS reviewed the conditions in Nicaragua and determined that recovery efforts post-Hurricane Mitch have been completed and the country could adequately handle the return of Nicaraguan nationals. In 2020, Nicaraguan TPS-holders extended their status due to the ongoing Ramos litigation. In 2022, it was again extended through June 30, 2024 due to the litigation.
Somalia was designated in September of 1991 due to conflict in the region. After a series of continuing re-designations, Somalia was designated under new condition in 2012 due to a fragile and volatile security situation.
According to the latest TPS extension request, the Al-Shabaab continues to present significant risks, and natural disasters have caused severe drought and flooding, as well as food insecurity and internal displacement, not to mention an outbreak of cholera alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a humanitarian crisis that requires the extension of TPS for Somali individuals. Because of these reasons, TPS was both extended and re-designated for Somali nationals in the U.S. as of July 19, 2021. TPS for Somalia was again extended and redesignated in January 2023, allowing an additional 2,200 Somali nationals to apply for relief.
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation — but based on the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions within South Sudan, it was designated for TPS in October 2011.
South Sudan is engulfed in an ongoing civil war marked by brutal violence against civilians, egregious human rights violations and abuses, and a humanitarian disaster seen on a devastating scale across the country. As of June 2019, 3.7 million people have fled their homes, and widespread starvation and ongoing violence has swept over the new nation. As of November 2, 2020, TPS for South Sudan nationals was extended 18 months and ends May 2, 2022. On March 2, 2022, DHS announced a new designation for TPS due to the internal displacement of millions of South Sudanese nationals. To be eligible for the new designation, South Sudanese nationals must have resided in the U.S. since March 1, 2022. It was again extended through November 3, 2023.
Sudan was designated for TPS in October 1997 because of ongoing armed conflict in the region. The violence and displacement of the Sudanese, along with environmental and economic factors, have created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Till this day, there is an unstable relationship between the military and civilian groups after the President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019. In 2020, Sudanese nationals were granted TPS extension due to the ongoing Ramos litigation. On March 2, 2022, DHS announced a new designation for TPS due to political instability and unrest. To be eligible for the new designation, Sudanese nationals must have resided in the U.S. since March 1, 2022.
After the Arab Spring devolved into a full civil war following the brutal repression of demonstrators in 2011-2012, the crisis there continues as of this writing . According to the U.N., 400,000 Syrians have been killed and more than half of the country’s 20 million, pre-war population has been displaced. Syria was designated for TPS on March 29, 2012 under President Obama due to the Syrian military’s violent suppression of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Syria continues to face ongoing armed conflict, and the most recent DHS notice extending and re-designating TPS to Syria noted the deliberate targeting of civilians, use of chemical weapons, irregular warfare tactics, and forced conscription and use of child soldiers. There are increasingly more Syrian refugees and displaced people, food insecurity, and limited access to water and medical care. To take away TPS would be irresponsible. Thankfully, the Biden administration announced an extension and redesignation of Syria for TPS, ensuring relief through March 31, 2024.
The extension of TPS for Syria allows approximately 6,448 current beneficiaries to retain TPS through March 31, 2024, if they meet TPS eligibility requirements. It is estimated that approximately 960 additional individuals may be eligible for TPS under the redesignation of Syria.
The current Russian-Ukrainian crisis sparked the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with 15 million people fleeing their homes, the United Nations said. Some even fled to the U.S.-Mexico border in search of safety. Many immigration advocates called for the Biden Administration to grant TPS to Ukrainians already living in the U.S., as it would prevent them from deportation to a country that is experiencing a humanitarian crisis.
On March 3, 2022, DHS designated Ukraine for TPS. Secretary Mayorkas said, “Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries.” According to the American Community Survey, there are currently 355,000 Ukrainians living in the U.S., and the Center for American Progress estimates that as many as 96,000 non-U.S. citizen Ukrainians, including 27,000 undocumented Ukrainians, will benefit from TPS.
Venezuela was designated for TPS on March 9, 2021. According to USCIS, the designation is because Venezuela is currently facing a severe humanitarian emergency due to an economic crisis which has deepened poverty, led to unemployment, shortages of food and medicine, and other basic needs like water, electricity, fuel. There are continual human rights abuses, heightened crime and violence, corruption, and increased human migration because of these factors.
The Biden administration announced the following summer that it would extend, but not expand, temporary protections for Venezuelan migrants. While extended TPS ensured another 18 months of deportation protection for families at risk of being sent back to multiple crises overseen by the Maduro regime, the Biden administration missed a major opportunity to ensure safety for an estimated 250,000 people who had arrived since 2021’s announcement but had not been eligible to apply.
In 2015, longstanding conflict broke out into a full civil war in Yemen. The war has killed over 10,000, displaced over 3 million people, and created a humanitarian crisis. TPS for Yemen was designated on September 3, 2015 under President Obama due to the ongoing armed conflict by the Houthis who forced Yemeni government leaders into exile in Saudi Arabia.
DHS reviewed the conditions in Yemen and in 2021 determined its 18-month extension and re-designation due to ongoing armed conflict. The Biden administration again extended and redesignated these protections to September 3, 2024, citing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that make it too dangerous for nationals to return. The extension continues protections for 1,700 current beneficiaries, while the redesignation could protect an additional 1,200 immigrants already in the U.S.
THE FUTURE OF TPS
While the previous administration baselessly revoked TPS designations as part of its anti-immigrant agenda, President Biden has used his authority under law to protect thousands of immigrants from being forced to go back to unsafe conditions that continue to endure to this day. Damage from natural disasters and dangerous and unstable conditions in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua make those countries unsafe for immigrants to return. Due to the current dire and extraordinary circumstances, Guatemala has asked the United States to designate Guatemalans for TPS as the government is not in a position to accept returning deportees. Should Guatemala get an initial designation, and El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua get redesignations, more than 1.5 million new individuals could be eligible for relief, TPS For Central America has said. Relief for Venezuela can also be expanded in addition to extended.
There is a very strong case to be made by other countries across the globe for TPS and the Biden Administration should be expansive in its consideration of these cases, such as designation for Mauritania. “Black Mauritanians suffer widespread race- and ethnicity-based human rights abuses, state-sponsored violence, land grabbing, repression of free speech, forced statelessness, and slavery, making deporting Black people to Mauritania dangerous—and potentially deadly,” FWD.us said in a report.
The President should use executive action more aggressively to expand TPS and protect immigrants who are already living, working, and paying taxes here. Their work and entrepreneurship directly benefit our economy and the money immigrants send to families through remittances helps stabilize regions of the world facing civil strife, climate change-driven disasters and the lingering impact of the global pandemic.