Temporary Protected Status Should Mean (but rarely does) ‘Temporary’

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

September 23, 2015

Here’s a news item you may have missed, but one that has consequences for the ever-increasing number of immigrants residing in the United States and the nation’s growing immigrant population which hit a record 42.1 million in 2016’s first quarter.

In June, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would grant temporary protected status to Nepalese nationals. An earthquake hit Nepal in April, killed nearly 8,600, and injured thousands more. Nepal’s TPS status took effect June 24 and will remain valid through December 26, 2016, unless, as is common, it’s renewed every 18 months.

Nepalese gather in New York following April earthquakes in Nepal. Their temporary protected status may become permanent.
Nepalese gather in New York following April earthquakes in Nepal.
Their temporary protected status may become permanent.

Pursuant to the Immigration Act of 1990, those that TPS covers are not deportable and will receive employment authorization documents, bad news for 8 million unemployed Americans. Immigration status at the time of application is not a factor. An illegal alien with TPS becomes, in effect, a permanent legal resident, but without the possibility of becoming a citizen.

As currently applied, TPS is bad federal policy because so few return home. While the U.S. is the most generous and accepting of immigrants, categories that qualify for TPS are hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest and Ebola. Since only 11 countries in the world can truly be considered peaceful, TPS applications could continue to increase in the foreseeable future.

Building enthusiasm for an individual country to receive TPS is easy. First, find advocates – not hard in this open-borders era. Second, seek out a sympathetic ear in Congress like Sen. Chuck Schumer. Third, dial up the closest immigration lawyer who will be more than happy to help.

The U.S. has a longstanding record of supporting humanitarian causes through TPS and financial assistance. But the key word in TPS is “temporary.” When the crisis ends, people must return home.

Currently, USCIS has designated 13 countries for TPS, including some terrorist-harboring nations like Yemen, Somalia and Syria.
 

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