On June 24, 2019, nearly 9,000 U.S. residents with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Nepal will be losing their TPS status. The Secretary of Homeland Security decided to terminate the status on the grounds that the initial conditions (environmental disaster) for which TPS was granted, are no longer met.
By Dalia Gonzalez, Thai Le, and Manuel Pastor
Ironically, just this year on January 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory for Nepal, warning individuals to practice extreme caution due to political violence. But what are the effects of this sudden termination for TPS recipients, their families, and the communities they have long been a part of? Particularly, when some of these countries like Nepal, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Sudan might not be considered safe? This essay aims to provide important information on TPS, including its history, the status quo, the most recent estimates of recipients across the United States, and the social impact that TPS has for individuals and immigrant communities.
Currently, the 10 countries with TPS designations are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Under the Immigration Act of 1990, the Secretary of Homeland Security can designate a country for TPS due to ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent nationals from safely returning to their home country. Individuals who are granted TPS are permitted to legally reside in the United States, obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work legally, and can be granted a travel authorization (Advanced Parole). Far from permanent, TPS can only be granted for 6, 12, or 18 months at a time.
While numerous TPS designations have been targeted for termination recently, ending TPS is not new. In the past, TPS has been granted to 12 other countries for which it has since expired. Figure 1 below lists these countries, their designation date, and expiration date.
In 2016, TPS terminations were issued for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone on the basis that the countries’ conditions for TPS designation were no longer met. Yet, the case of Liberia is unique in that qualified nationals were also granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Under DED, recipients are protected from deportation, can obtain an EAD to work legally, and can be granted a travel authorization (Advanced Parole). Under the president’s discretion DED is issued but DHS establishes the requirements. While TPS for Liberia was issued in 1991, DED was later issued in 2000. Since then, TPS and DED designations for Liberia have been extended interchangeably. To summarize these complex extensions, TPS for Liberia expired on May 21, 2017 and DED for Liberia is set to expire on March 31, 2019.