More than 320,000 immigrants have permission to live and work in our country today due to a form of humanitarian relief called Temporary Protected Status (TPS.)  Since 1990, TPS has been granted to nationals of countries that have been embroiled in violent conflict or suffered a natural disaster so that they will not be returned to harm’s way.  The overwhelming majority of TPS holders are from 3 countries:  Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador.

The majority of TPS beneficiaries have been contributing to our communities and our economy for more than 15 years, but their status is now at risk. Anti-immigrant groups are urging the administration to end TPS status for all these countries, which would effectively strip away work authorization for hundreds of thousands of people, including tens of thousands of union members.

Background: As the name implies, TPS is not a grant of permanent legal status. Rather, TPS beneficiaries receive provisional protection against deportation and permission to work in the United States for a limited period of time.  They must renew their TPS status at least every 18 months and undergo security screening with each renewal. The United States can end a country’s TPS designation once it has recovered from the triggering event, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also has broad discretion to extend, which administrations of both parties have historically used generously.

The recent push to renew TPS for Haiti was the opening round of a much larger fight to preserve this status for working people from all over the world. Most Haitians with TPS have lived in the U.S. for more than seven years and have families here.  In addition to the devastating 2010 Earthquake, Haiti has been hit by a cholera epidemic that sickened nearly 1 million people and a category 4 hurricane hit the island last October.  Although the administration did eventually renew Haiti’s TPS status, it did so for the shortest possible time, offering workers a mere six months of additional relief.  In announcing the extension, DHS urged Haitian TPS beneficiaries to use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States.

Where do TPS holders live?

TPS holders reside all over the U.S. Most TPS holders from El Salvador live in the Washington, DC (32,359), Los Angeles (30,415) and New York (23,168) metropolitan areas. Honduran TPS holders live mostly in the New York (8,818), Miami (7,467) and Houston (6,060) metropolitan areas. Haitian TPS holders live mainly in the Miami (16,287), New York (9,402) and Boston (4,302) metropolitan areas.

Labor’s stake: As looming TPS renewal deadlines for additional countries threaten the work authorization status of large numbers of union members and working people, the labor movement must take a strong stand in support of this humanitarian program.   We must send a clear message to the administration and all elected officials that failure to renew TPS designations will actively harm our economy, our communities, and our unions.  We want more working people to have rights on the job, not fewer.

Credit: AFL-CIO and National Immigration Forum

COUNTRIES WHOSE NATIONALS IN THE U.S. CURRENTLY BENEFIT FROM TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS

Country Population[1] Expiration Date Decision Date[2] Original Designation Redesignations (if any) Type of Designation
Honduras 57,000 Jan. 5, 2018 Nov. 6, 2017 Jan. 5, 1999 N/A (B) environmental disaster and inability, temporarily, to accept returns
Nicaragua 2,550 Jan. 5, 2018 Nov. 6, 2017 Jan. 5, 1999 N/A (B) environmental disaster and inability, temporarily, to accept returns
Haiti 50,000 Jan. 22, 2018 Nov. 23, 2017 Jan. 21, 2010 July 23, 2011 (C) extraordinary and temporary conditions
El Salvador 195,000 Mar. 9, 2018 Jan. 8, 2018 Mar. 9, 2001 N/A (B) environmental disaster and inability, temporarily, to accept returns
Syria 5,800 Mar. 31, 2018 Jan. 30, 2018 Mar. 29, 2012 June 17, 2013; January 5, 2015; and Aug. 1, 2016 (A) ongoing armed conflict AND

(C) extraordinary and temporary conditions

Nepal 8,950 June 24, 2018 Apr. 25, 2018 June 24, 2015 N/A (B) earthquake and inability, temporarily, to accept returns
Yemen 1,000 Sept. 3, 2018 July 5, 2018 Sept. 3, 2015 Jan. 4, 2017 (A) ongoing armed conflict AND

(C) extraordinary and temporary conditions

Somalia 270 Sept. 17, 2018 July 19, 2018 Sept. 16, 1991 Sept. 4, 2001 and Sept. 18, 2012 (A) ongoing armed conflict AND

(C) extraordinary and temporary conditions

Sudan 450 Termination effective Nov. 2, 2018 N/A Nov. 4, 1997 Nov. 9, 1999; Nov. 2, 2004; and May 3, 2013 (A) ongoing armed conflict AND

(C) extraordinary and temporary conditions

South Sudan 75-200 May 2, 2019 Mar. 3, 2019 Nov. 3, 2011 Sept. 2, 2014 and Jan. 25, 2016 (A) ongoing armed conflict AND

(C) extraordinary and temporary conditions

 

[1] Population estimates come from Carla Argueta, Temporary Protected Status: Current Immigration Policy and Issues, Congressional Research Service, RS20844, Jan. 17, 2017, available at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RS20844.pdf..

[2] INA 244(b)(3) requires that DHS make a decision 60 days prior to the expiration date and “timely” publish such determination in the Federal Register.