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Trump administration temporarily extends protected status for 250,000 immigrants

TPS holders from these four countries represent 94 percent of all program beneficiaries.

People demonstrate in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 9, 2018 against the decision by Trump administration to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. (Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 9, 2018 against the decision by Trump administration to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. (Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Immigrants from countries ravaged by natural disasters and disease will have their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) extended until January 2020, providing some marginal relief for more than 250,000 immigrants living in the United States for decades. The renewals will cover 200,000 TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, 50,000 from Haiti, 2,500 from Nicaragua, and 1,000 from Sudan.

“TPS for those countries will not be terminated unless and until any superseding, final, non-appealable judicial order permits the implementation of such termination,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a notice Thursday.

TPS for these countries was set to expire after the Trump administration decided in 2018 that the countries didn’t warrant special protections anymore, leaving immigrants who are originally from there faced with the choice of either voluntarily leaving on their own or becoming vulnerable to deportation.

President Trump has decided to end TPS protections for seven out of the nine designated countries.

In March 2018, nine TPS holders from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, as well as five children of TPS holders who were born in the United States and would face separation from their family if their parents were deported or forced to return to their countries of origin filed a lawsuit against the administration’s decision to rescind TPS.

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In October, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen granted a preliminary injunction stopping the administration to terminating protections for beneficiaries from these four countries.

Another lawsuit, which was filed on February 10, 2019, challenges the termination of TPS for Honduran and Nepalese immigrants.

While TPS recipients from these four countries can breathe a sigh relief, it is far from the ideal outcome. TPS activists have long advocated for a permanent solution that would grant them a path to citizenship. TPS can only be granted for six to 18 months at a time, meaning that program beneficiaries are constantly living at the whim of the government, unsure of whether they will have to unravel lives built in the United States over decades.

According to a report from the Center for American Progress, approximately 620,000 individuals live in a household with a family member whom TPS protects. The have a labor participation rate of 87 percent, and mostly work in construction and cleaning. Their households contribute $2.3 billion in federal taxes and $1.3 billion in state and local taxes annually. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent newsroom housed within the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)

House Democrats have included a permanent fix for TPS recipients in the latest version of the DREAM Act, which will be unveiled later this month. Like “Dreamers,” or immigrants who were came to the United States as children, 29 percent to 32 percent of TPS holders were under the age of 18 when they arrived in the United States.