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Steph Solis: Consequences of Unlawful TPS Terminations Take Shape as Lives and Families Remain in Limbo

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The consequences of the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Steph Solis at MassLive reports, are becoming more apparent and convoluted at the expense of families and hard-working immigrants. TPS holders are confronting the reeling, rippling effects in the wake of the unlawful termination of their immigration status. Facing legal hurdles and obstacles to renew their work permits and driver’s licenses is just the beginning of continued attrition if not solution is granted.

The foreseeable way out? The Senate must pass the House-approved Dream and Promise Act to ensure permanent protections are given to hundreds of thousands of TPS holders, Dreamers, and immigrant youth. 

Solis’ reporting is excerpted below:

Immigrants with temporary protections, who are suing the Trump administration over its efforts to cut the program, staved off deportations when a federal judge ordered the federal government to let them remain in the country while their lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

But some of those immigrants and their attorneys say they face a new hurdle: explaining to employers and state government officials that they still have legal status.

The federal government announced in the Federal Register that their status would be automatically extended, but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decided not to issue new work permits, meaning these immigrants are relying on work permits that, on their face, appear expired.

In Greater Boston, attorneys say immigrants with temporary protections are being asked to send new work permits to their employers, despite the automatic extensions, or are struggling to renew their driver’s license because government employees do not seem familiar with the federal lawsuits.

“It’s huge. It’s their livelihood. It’s their jobs,” said Tom Smith, an attorney at Justice at Work who met with TPS holders in East Boston who were asked to submit new work permits to their employers. “It goes without saying, but there’s a family attached to each of these jobs.”

… Smith and other attorneys said the first complaints they received came from Salvadoran TPS holders, whose work permits expired Sept. 9. At a meeting in East Boston, at least four people told the Massachusetts TPS Committee that their employers asked them for new work permits even though they have status until Jan. 2, 2020.

Brian Flynn, an attorney who works in the employment law unit at Greater Boston Legal Services, said he recently received three calls in one day from concerned TPS holders who said their employers asked for new work permits.

“I really can understand how they might not know. You have to go look at a Federal Register report,” Flynn said, “and the few employers I contacted last week were kind of grateful to have this information.”

Others said they encountered problems renewing their driver’s licenses, which typically expire around the same time as their work permits.

“One man, he insisted that he wanted to see my green card,” said Cesar Roque, a TPS recipient from Salvadoran who recently renewed his license at the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Watertown. “It was a really desperate, worrisome moment.”

Roque said he ultimately got his license renewed, but that he faced much more questioning than he had previously. He said the clerks didn’t appear familiar with TPS when he first told them about it and the automatic extension. Another man, who did not give his name, said he couldn’t get his license renewed in Roslindale or Braintree.

… If employers seek additional verification, the consul general of El Salvador in Boston agreed to issue letters on behalf of those individuals.