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Resisting Trump’s attacks on TPS

News & Commentary  |  By Peniel Ibe, Jul 6, 2018
Photo: AFSC / Gabriel Camacho

As hundreds of thousands of immigrants face the risk of deportation, communities continue to push back against Trump’s racist agenda. 

Communities across the country are still reeling from the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, putting them at risk for deportation. TPS grants protection from deportation to people from certain countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions. 

Over the past year, the Trump administration has ended TPS for Nicaragua, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Haiti, Nepal, El Salvador, and Honduras. Most affected TPS holders have been given 12 to 18 months to obtain other forms of immigration relief or leave the United States and return to potentially life-threatening situations. 

Ending TPS for these countries ignores the dire conditions that warrant continued protections for their nationals. Instead these cruel decisions serve only to advance Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant agenda.

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s rhetoric has demonstrated his hostility toward TPS countries. He has called several TPS recipient nations “shithole countries,” stated that all people from Haiti have AIDS, and used dehumanizing language to describe migrants from Central America. 

Terminating TPS is part of the administration’s effort to block any avenue that contributes to racial and religious diversity in the United States—from enacting the Muslim ban to implementing current visa sanctions to calling for an end to the Diversity Visa Program.  

Today, as hundreds of thousands of TPS holders face the risk of deportation, it’s critical that we continue to push back against the Trump administration’s attacks on TPS and any other racist policies disguised as immigration reform.  

Here’s what you need to know about current efforts to save TPS: 

The Trump administration’s decisions on TPS face legal challenges.   

TPS holders and advocates in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bryan Vana/AFSC 

TPS community members, advocacy organizations, social justice groups, and other allies are working to prove that the administration was wrong—and discriminatory—in terminating TPS for impacted countries. 

Multiple lawsuits are challenging the administration’s termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras. Plaintiffs include the NAACP, Centro Presente, Family Action Network Movement, the American immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Haïti Liberté in partnership with impacted TPS recipients and their U.S. citizen children. 

Generally, the lawsuits seek to stop the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing  terminations. The suits also accuse the administration of ending TPS for certain countries based on racial discrimination and infringing on the constitutional rights of TPS beneficiaries, among other issues. 

Evidence that could support these lawsuits have been made public in the media. 

Some members of Congress are also working to hold DHS accountable. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey has called on the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the decision to terminate TPS for Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, despite signs and warnings by U.S. diplomats and experts.  

This month, the Trump administration announces decisions on two more TPS countries, Yemen and Somalia. 

TPS Day of Action in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bryan Vana/AFSC

On July 5, the Trump administration announced it would extend TPS for an estimated 1,200 Yemenis living in the U.S. for 18 months—but would not admit new Yemenis to the program. 

Although the administration should be commended for extending TPS, it’s critical that it also redesignates TPS for Yemen, which continues to struggle with extreme violence and poverty. A redesignation of TPS would allow thousands more recently arrived Yemeni nationals to apply for protection through TPS – people who are fleeing from a U.S.-backed war in Yemen. 

Yemen was originally granted TPS because of ongoing conflict and civil war. In 2017, the secretary of DHS found that a redesignation of TPS for Yemen was warranted "due to the continued deterioration of the conditions for civilians in Yemen and the resulting need to offer protection to individuals who have arrived in the United States after the eligibility cut off dates." And earlier this year, the U.N. secretary general declared the war in Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis

A decision on TPS for Somalia is expected by July 19. TPS was originally designated for Somalia in 1991 due to severe armed conflict. Today, Somali nationals continue to desperately need the protection that TPS is meant to offer. In January, the State Department issued a “Level 4 – Do Not Travel” advisory for the country. Somalis returning from outside of the country have become targeted by armed groups for violence, persecution, and forced conscription. 

Currently, there are an estimated 250 Somalia TPS holders in the U.S. Communities are urging the Trump administration to not only maintain protections for TPS holders but also continue to allow more Somali nationals to apply for TPS.  

It’s important to note that both Yemen and Somalia are on the list of countries included in Trump’s racist Muslim ban. The dire conditions in both countries have made it clear that they warrant TPS extension and redesignation. Ending these life-saving protections is cruel and serves only to advance the administration’s racist, xenophobic policies.   

We must continue to pressure Congress to save TPS. 

TPS Day of Action in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bryan Vana/AFSC

TPS holders, their families, and communities are working hard to defend this vital program—and calling for a roadmap to citizenship for all immigrants. 

Around the country, TPS holders and their families have shared their stories with the media, organized legislative visits and protests across the nation and in Washington, D.C., and even occupied congressional offices, risking arrest to raise awareness for TPS. 

With everything going on in the U.S. and in the world, it’s critical that we continue to keep up the pressure on Congress to preserve this vital program.

Contact your members of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or emailing them today.  Urge them to: 

1. Pass humane immigration policies that would create a roadmap to citizenship for TPS holders.

Bills have been introduced in Congress that would protect TPS holders. The American Promise Act of 2017 (H.R. 4253¬) and the SECURE Act (S.2144) bills would provide permanent legal residency and a pathway to citizenship for all TPS holders.  

2) Ask the U.S. Government Accountability Office to further investigate the findings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s investigation into the termination of TPS for all impacted countries.

For more information and resources on TPS, visit afsc.org/tps.  

About the Author

Peniel is the policy fellow at AFSC. She is interested in international development, humanitarian crisis management and public policy. She is an immigrant from Nigeria who recently relocated to the United States and is advocating for the rights of others like her.

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