Federal Judge Blocks Ending TPS for Four Countries

UPDATE:   On October 25, 2018,  the government notified the federal district court that it will comply with the order (described below) by automatically extending until April 2, 2019 the work permits of Sudanese and Nicaraguans who have TPS currently  (including those whose application during the most recent re-registration period for TPS was already approved, or whose most recent application for TPS is still in process with USCIS and no decision has been received yet).

The government has now published a Federal Register notice that will serve as evidence, for I-9 compliance purposes, that eligible Sudanese and Nicaraguans have continued work eligibility through April 2, 2019.

On October 3, 2018, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the administration from terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for citizens with TPS from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

As we have described previously, TPS is offered to citizens of countries that have experienced natural catastrophes or civil conflict who are in the U.S. in any status when their country is designated for TPS, so that they can live and work here legally until the U.S. government deems conditions safe for them to return. TPS is typically given in 18 month increments with multiple extensions possible.

About 250,000 people from these four countries have TPS, many of whom have U.S. citizen children and have been here for decades.   Sudan was first designated for TPS in 1997, Nicaragua in 1999, El Salvador in 2001, and Haiti in 2010.

This is just a preliminary ruling, but it signals that the plaintiffs are likely to win on the merits of their case challenging the legality of the Administration’s decision to terminate TPS from these countries.

Internal emails entered as evidence in the lawsuit revealed that State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) career staff recommended to the Department of Homeland Security that conditions in all four of these countries were such that TPS should be extended, not ended, only to have that advice ignored.  Indeed, political appointees within DHS asked that the recommendations be “repackaged”  to support termination of TPS.  This resulted in documents recommending that TPS be extended,  followed by conclusions that TPS should be terminated.  The court order (p. 33) included an illustrative email by the now-director of USCIS Francis Cissna, who after reviewing the information on Sudan, remarked that

(t)he memo reads like one person who strongly supports extending TPS for Sudan wrote everything up to the recommendation section, and then someone who opposes extension snuck up behind the first guy, clubbed him over the head, pushed his senseless body out of the way, and finished the memo. Am I missing something?

The court’s order is not just a preliminary victory for the citizens of these countries who were facing imminent loss of their legal status (TPS for Sudanese citizens is slated to end on November 2, 2018, for Nicaraguans in January 2019, for Haitians in July 2019, and for Salvadorans in September 2019).  It may also allow Congress time to act to provide a path to permanent residency for these nearly 250,000 individuals who have put down roots and are contributing to our communities nationwide and in Maine, as neighbors, friends, relatives, employees, entrepreneurs, and taxpayers.

The case, including likely government appeals, will be underway for months or years more,  but if this decision stands, the government must meanwhile allow those from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan to renew their TPS.