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Year in review: Organizing to save Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Rally at the D.C. capitol
Photo: / AFSC

Throughout 2019, thousands of people with Temporary Protected (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), their families, and communities have continued to organize and advocate to save these vital programs.    

TPS and DED provide critical protections to hundreds of thousands of people from countries afflicted by war, natural disasters, or other dangerous conditions, allowing them to live and work in the United States. But the Trump administration has announced its plans to end TPS and DED for many of these countries, placing individuals at risk of deportation.     

All through the year, AFSC in support of TPS and DED holders have called on you to join our efforts—and so many of you have answered our call! Thank you for helping us send thousands of messages to Congress; organize powerful actions in Washington, D.C. and cities across the U.S.; and engage congregations, partners, and many others in our work!    

As 2019 draws to a close, we look at how—with your support—we have helped strengthen this movement and what we can expect in the new year. 

A mass action in Washington, D.C. 

 

In February, TPS and DED recipients joined with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, their families, and allies to take to the streets in Washington, D.C.—a powerful demonstration to defend their right to stay in the U.S.  

Many people with TPS, DED, and DACA have called the United States their home for decades, belong to the same communities and sometimes the same family. There is also significant overlap among the largest nationality groups among TPS and DACA recipients. All three groups face the threat of deportation without a legislative solution to provide them with permanent residency and a roadmap to citizenship.  

Promising legislation  

Thanks to the extraordinary grassroots organizing and tireless advocacy, Congress listened. In April 2019, both the House and the Senate introduced legislation that would protect TPS, DED and DACA recipients and create a roadmap to citizenship for all three groups–The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), The Secure Act of 2019 (S. 879) and The DREAM Act of 2019 (S.874)  

The three bills were strong, progressive measures that would ensure protections for TPS, DED, and DACA recipients. What’s more, AFSC supporters helped us speak out against any attempts to attach harmful anti-immigrant provisions. We successfully opposed terrible amendments that sought to criminalize entire categories of immigrants to weaken the legislation and hurt immigrant communities of color.  

A monumental vote  

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act of 2019—an important first step to protecting people with TPS, DED, and DACA as well individuals who could have been protected if the Trump administration did not seek to terminate the programs.   

For the bill to take effect, the Senate must vote on it and then send it to the desk of the president to be signed into law. 

Act now: Tell your senators that time is running out to protect TPS, DED and DACA recipients.  

Progress in the courts 

Legal challenges to Trump’s termination of TPS, and DACA are succeeding, offering a temporary reprieve to TPS holders from certain countries and current DACA recipients. Multiple lawsuits are challenging the administration’s termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, and Honduras.  

Due to the preliminary injunction mandated by one of the lawsuits, TPS holders from all six countries have temporary protection while the lawsuit is ongoing. Influenced by the court’s decision, the Department of Homeland Security extended TPS for all six countries till January 2021.  

In November, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Trump administration’s unlawful attempt to end DACA. We are awaiting a decision anticipated to be published in June of 2020.  

Liberian DED holders also sued the administration for terminating the program, but the courts dismissed the lawsuit. With the support of immigrant advocacy groups, they sought out alternative ways to protect the community of 4,000 Liberians who have lived in the U.S. for decades. In December, a provision creating a roadmap to citizenship for Liberian DED and TPS holders was included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which would establish long-awaited stability for the Liberian community.  

Only legislation–not litigation–can provide a permanent solution for TPS, DED, and DACA recipients and their families under attack by the Trump administration. The courts cannot solve this problem. We need legislation that keeps families and communities together.   

Thank you for standing with TPS, DED, and DACA recipients and all immigrants! 

The progress made over the past year is due in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of groups supporting TPS and DED holders alongside AFSC (including the National TPS Alliance, Undocublack, African Communities Together, Families Belong Together, NDLON, and CARECEN LA) as well as those supporting DACA recipients (like United We Dream, National Immigration Legal Center, NAKASEC, and other partners of the #HomeisHere campaign).

As we have throughout the past year, we will continue to call on you to take action—and we are grateful we can count on your support.  

Contact your representatives and urge your family and friends to do the same. It’s time for Congress to pass legislation to provide legal permanent residency and a roadmap to citizenship for TPS, DED, and DACA recipients and all immigrants in the U.S. 

About the Author

Peniel Ibe is the policy engagement coordinator at AFSC’s Office of Public Policy and Advocacy. She leads AFSC’s advocacy efforts to coordinate grassroots engagement strategies to impact policy change. She is an immigrant from Nigeria who recently relocated to the United States and is advocating for the rights of others like her.