When civil unrest, violence, or natural disasters erupt in countries around the world, concerns arise over the ability of foreign nationals in the United States from those countries to safely return. Provisions exist in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to offer temporary protected status (TPS) and other forms of relief from removal under specified circumstances. The Secretary of Homeland Security has the discretion to issue TPS for periods of 6 to 18 months and can extend these periods if conditions leading to the designating of TPS do not change. Congress has also provided TPS legislatively. A foreign national who is granted TPS receives a registration document and employment authorization for the duration of a given TPS designation.
The United States currently provides TPS to approximately 437,000 foreign nationals from 10 countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. TPS for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone expired in May 2017, but certain Liberians maintain relief under an administrative mechanism known as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Haiti’s TPS designation was extended for an additional six months from July 22, 2017, to January 22, 2018. In September 2017, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced plans to terminate Sudan’s designation on November 2, 2018, while extending South Sudan’s designation by 18 months to May 2, 2019. T
here is ongoing debate about whether migrants who have been living in the United States for long periods of time with TPS should receive a pathway to legal permanent resident (LPR) status. Recent policy debates have also focused on whether the Administration should extend TPS for migrants from Central America because of crime and security challenges in the region, as well as for countries in the Caribbean due to recent hurricanes and, in the case of Haiti, ongoing recovery from natural disasters. In addition, Venezuela’s political and economic strife have prompted some U.S. lawmakers to call for its designation for TPS.