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What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

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Originally published October 18, 2018, updated August 9, 2018

U.S. Children born to a TPS holder: 270,000
Mortgages TPS Recipients Would Have to Walk Away From: 60,000
Immediate Layoffs of TPS Recipients: 250,000
Employer Costs of Mass Layoffs: $1 Billion
Cost of Mass Deportation to Taxpayers: $3 Billion

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?  

Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, was established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990. TPS is intended to protect foreign nationals in the U.S. from being returned to their home country if it became unsafe during the time they were in the U.S. and returning would put them at risk of violence, disease, or death. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

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The Trump Administration is slowly ending TPS for hundreds of thousands

Under the Trump Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made a habit of terminating or failing to redesignate each country whose TPS renewal deadline approaches. 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 has ended 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 makes a talking point.

DHS terminated TPS on:

Date Country Population Affected Terminated
October 11, 2017 Sudan 1,048 November 2, 2018
December 15, 2017 Nicaragua 5,305 January 5, 2019
January 8, 2018 El Salvador 262,526 September 9, 2019
January 18, 2018 Haiti 58,557 July 22, 2019
April 26, 2018 Nepal 14,791 June 24, 2019
May 4, 2018 Honduras 86,031 January 1, 2020

DHS extended but failed to redesignate TPS on:

Date Country Population Affected Extension date
January 30, 2018 Syria 6,916 September 30, 2019
July 7, 2018 Yemen 1,250 March 3, 2020
July 19, 2018 Somalia 500 March 17, 2020

Check out the full table of the current TPS status here.

The economic disruption could be enormous:

  • There are nearly 250,000 TPS recipients currently employed. (CMS of New York)
  • Mass layoffs of TPS recipients would cost employers approximately $967 million in turnover costs. (ILRC)
  • There are more than 60,000 mortgages held by TPS recipients. (CMS of New York)
  • Deporting all Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians and Nicaraguans would cost taxpayers more than $3 billion dollars. (ILRC)
  • The five leading industries that would be hurt are:
    • construction (50,000+)
    • restaurants and other food services (32,000+)
    • landscaping services (15,000+)
    • child day care services (10,000)
    • grocery stores (9,000+) (CMS of New York)

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

TPS is the biggest immigration, economic and foreign policy issue you’ve never heard of. The forced removal of hundreds of thousands of hardworking, home-owning families could unleash devastating consequences on employers, the housing market and taxpayers. Spending billions of taxpayer dollars on mass deportations would be hugely disruptive to our economy. Ending TPS could result in compelling 60,000 homeowners to walk away from their mortgages. The disruption to the healthcare, hospitality, food services, construction and childcare industries would be extensive. Add to this the impact on fragile home countries if hundreds of thousands are forced to return, and we are facing a series of imminent decisions that will be of huge consequence. The best solution? DHS should extend TPS for those currently holding TPS. This will keep our economy strong, serve our foreign policy interests and recognize the contributions of deeply-rooted immigrants.

The ending of TPS for hundreds of thousands of immigrants is creating a family separation crisis. More than 270,000 children who are U.S. citizens have a parent who has TPS, who will have to make a choice between taking their children with them to dangerous countries or leaving them in the U.S. Read more from affected families and policy experts here.

The Administration appears to have jumped to predetermined conclusions on ending TPS instead of objectively analyzing conditions on the ground. According to documents from DHS, the Trump Administration knew that deteriorating conditions within Haiti warranted an extension of TPS but terminated the program anyway. Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador TPS holders are also part of an ongoing lawsuit that alleges the ending of their TPS was racially motivated.

As of this writing, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has resisted widespread calls to protect Guatemalans under TPS. A volcano located in southern Guatemala unexpectedly erupted on June 3, 2018. As of July 23, there have been over 100 casualties, over 300 people remain missing, nearly 13,000 people have been evacuated, and the eruption has affected over 1.7 million people.

Who can make a TPS designation? Why?

Under the law, the secretary of Homeland Security 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 prevents nationals from the country from safely returning home. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

What does it mean to designate, redesignate, 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, can chose to “redesignate” 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 redesignate 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.

Why is this a pressing issue now?

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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network) Check out the full table of the current TPS status here.

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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

In fact, 250,000 TPS designees are currently employed, mostly in the construction, food services, landscaping, childcare and grocery business. (CMS of New York)

Can a TPS designee get citizenship?

No. By statute, TPS does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

Why were these countries designated?


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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

In the most recent extension of TPS for Honduras (July 6, 2016 through Jan. 5, 2018), the U.S. government cited that not only Hurricane Mitch, but subsequent natural disasters, prevent the safe return of Honduran TPS holders in the U.S.This includes severe climate fluctuations between drought and flooding and the devastating flooding and landslides resulting from Tropical Storm Hanna in 2014. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

El Salvador

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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

Since 2001, the country has remained unstable for the safe return of Salvadoran TPS holders. In the most recent extension (Sept. 10, 2016 to March 9, 2018), 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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)


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. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)

Haitian TPS has continued to be renewed for 18-month increments since the initial designation period (with the exception of the most recent six-month extension), as the country remains unstable and unsafe. In addition to the devastating earthquake of 2010, the country has been struck by two additional catastrophes: a cholera epidemic and Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane which hit in October 2016 and affected 2 million Haitians. (Catholic Legal Immigration Network)


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. The war and the humanitarian crisis continue as of this writing.

On January 4, 2017, DHS extended a TPS designation for the Yemenis until September 3, 2018. On July 5, 2018 DHS extended the status for Yemenis currently covered by TPS until March 3, 2020, but despite the country’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis DHS did not redesignate Yemen for those who came after the original designation, meaning many who came later will face deportation.


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’s TPS designation has been renewed or extended four times since it was first designated in March of 2012. While DHS extended TPS for current holders they failed to redesignate Syria; turning back those who have arrived after August 2016.


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.

TPS for Nepal was extended in October 2016 because earthquake relief and recovery efforts were impeded by civil unrest and damaged crossings at the Nepal-India border. DHS under the Trump Administration extended TPS for current holders but failed to redesignate Nepal even as more than 75% of infrastructure destroyed by the quake has not been rebuilt.


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.

The Sudanese were granted repeated extensions of TPS. But, even as DHS redesignated South Sudan which is embroiled in a similar conflict, DHS terminated TPS for the Sudanese on October 11, 2017 and extended their status only until November 2, 2018.

South Sudan

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. The current extension will be up for review before May 2019.


Somalia was designated in September of 1991 due to conflict in the region. After a series of continuing redesignations, Somalia was designated under new condition in 2012 due to a fragile and volatile security situation. Much of Somalia is currently in a state of ongoing armed conflict between government forces, clan militia, African Union troops, and al-Shabaab.

Somalian TPS has been redesignated twenty-three time as the conditions that led to a TPS designation continue to persist. However, even has conditions on the ground have not dramatically changed, DHS extended TPS for current holders but failed to redesignate Somalia, threatening the livelihoods of Somali immigrants.   


Nicaragua TPS was initially designated following a devastating Hurricane that caused severe flooding in October 1998. The storm killed 3,045 people and 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 has been redesignated for TPS thirteen times as the regions most devastated by the hurricane are also some of the poorest and least developed in the country. Subsequent natural disasters have exacerbated the problem because Nicaragua is particularly vulnerable to recurring natural disasters and the impact of climate change, and its resilience to such threats is severely limited by poverty, lack of infrastructure, and governance challenges. However, the Trump Administration’s DHS terminated Nicaragua’s TPS; if deported, over 5,000 Nicaraguans will face violence and oppression as well as potential separation from their U.S. citizen children.

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