A federal judge ordered President Donald Trump's administration to immediately suspend the cancellation of the Temporary Protected Status program - known as TPS - for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had ordered the elimination of TPS for these countries, affecting more than 300,000 people - 263,282 Salvadorans, 5,349 Nicaraguans, 58,706 Haitians and 1,039 Sudanese - who could be deported from the country if they do not find a legal immigration alternative by the expiration date set for their respective countries.
The decision means that for the time being, eligible individuals from these countries can renew or register for the first time late for TPS.
In a 43-page rulingthe district judge Edward M. Chenappointed by President Barack Obama, ruled that TPS beneficiaries and their children "will undoubtedly suffer irreparable harm and great hardship" if they are repatriated, while the government has failed to demonstrate any real harm in allowing them to remain in the country under the current temporary status they were granted and have lived under for decades.
Judge Chen's preliminary injunction is a temporary injunction, in response to a lawsuit filed against DHS by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other immigrant advocates seeking to challenge the cancellation of TPS, arguing violations of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law.
In his decision, the judge indicated that "the plaintiffs have substantially demonstrated the merits of their claims, both in fact and in law", presenting evidence that "the criteria applied by previous administrations were modified...without any explanation or justification in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act".
The judge set a hearing for October 26, 2018 to determine the next steps in the lawsuit.
The TPS was scheduled to end for the four countries in this order:
Sudan: November 2, 2018
Nicaragua: January 5, 2019
Haiti: July 22, 2019
El Salvador: September 9, 2019
Preliminary blockade does not cover Hondurans
Judge Chen's decision does not block the termination of TPS for approximately 86,000 Hondurans on January 5, 2020. However, this could change if a successful lawsuit against the cancellation of TPS for Hondurans, Salvadorians and Haitians filed in federal court in Massachusetts.
TPS is not a pathway to permanent residency
Judge Chen's ruling is a temporary block. It remains to be seen how the lawsuit concludes and whether the case is appealed. This could take time, during which time TPS renewals or late initial TPS registrations for eligible individuals could continue to be made.
TPS is a temporary program and does not lead to permanent residency. This could only change if the U.S. Congress amends the law.
When TPS ends, anyone with TPS will revert to the immigration status they had before, such as being undocumented. If you have no other legal option to stay in the United States, you will be subject to removal from the country.
It is of utmost importance that any person who is registered for TPS consult with an immigration attorney to evaluate his or her options for obtaining permanent residency in the United States.