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Temporary Protection Status threatened

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of immigrants from several countries on Jan. 8. The most recent—and widest reaching—TPS cancellation affects El Salvador and is set to expire on Sept. 9, 2019. There are roughly 195,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. under TPS granted in 2001 after earthquakes shook their nation.

TPS is granted to citizens in countries where conditions prevent travelers who are already in the U.S. from returning home safely, or when the country is “unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy. This allows immigrants to stay in the U.S. and work until it is safe for them to go home.

Since its inception in 1990, more than 19 countries have had TPS designations. Most recently, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were given TPS during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. This was terminated in May of last year when the DHS determined that conditions had returned to a safe level.

Near the end of every TPS cycle (usually 18 months), the DHS reviews the situation and decides to extend or terminate the designation based on the conditions in the country in question. If the TPS is terminated, there is a minimum of 60 days between the announcement and the date of termination to help provide for an “orderly transition” and allow immigrants to apply for permanent legal status.

This year, the DHS extended the TPS status of Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Nepal, Syria and South Sudan.

Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti are also scheduled to have their TPS designations terminated in the next year or two, which will affect hundreds of thousands of people.

“The effect of TPS is both ways. It is very hard to leave behind their children,” said International Community Development professor Solomon Hailu. “Equally, families remaining behind will be unprepared to see their mother, father or other siblings gone.”

The individuals and their families are not the only ones who will be affected, however. The countries preparing to receive a sudden influx of citizens returning home will have changes coming as well.

Some adverse effects to these already unstable countries could include the creation of “economic burdens through rising unemployment, crime rate, and government assistance to deported citizens,” said Hailu.

On the other hand, he notes that there could be positive elements to these immigrants returning home.

“If they have professional skills to contribute to their country’s economy, that would be a good thing for their country’s national economic development,” said Hailu.

Congress now has 18 months to pass protective measures for TPS recipients or draft a potential legislative solution.