TPS Holders Seek Pathway to Legal Residency

While Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) dominates immigration discussions among lawmakers in Washington D.C., individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) also seek a seat at the table. At the heart of the matter, TPS holders with end-dates looming around their status want inclusion in the talks as a means of negotiating for permanent residency status.

TPS, a humanitarian program designed to aid nationals in countries experiencing armed conflict or natural and environmental disasters, currently extends to more than 400,000 individuals living in the United States. Under President Trump, officials have declined to extend the status of individuals from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua.

According to an NBC News report, “The decision to end Temporary Protection Status for over 400,000 people is not based on what is best for this country,” Martha Arevalo, executive director of CARECEN LA, the largest Central American immigrant rights organization in the country. “Unfortunately, this decision by the Trump administration is based on a racist and anti-immigrant agenda.”

With TPS, beneficiaries of the status can’t be removed from the United States and also receive permission to work with the issuance of an employment authorization document (EAD).

“TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS.)  And while individuals with TPS can still petition to receive nonimmigrant status or an adjustment of status, the waiting period in getting to the front of the queue remains extreme.

In the case of El Salvador, for example, TPS ends in September next year. Edenilson Granados, one of the beneficiaries of the Salvador TPS designation, already began the petitioning process three years ago with sponsorship from his father, a legal resident. But the process is at least 7 years long.

“In the meantime, anything can happen. Immigration authorities can come, and then what? There’s got to be another solution for TPS,” Granados said.

The National TPS Alliance sponsored a two-day rally in Washington D.C. in early February as a means of bringing the matter to the attention of lawmakers. Edwin Murillo, an alliance member and TPS holder, participated in the demonstration. “As a community that continues to contribute to the American fabric and economy, TPS holders must be included in any immigrant legislation.”