Federal Court Allows Some TPS Designations to Continue for Now, Despite Trump Administration

Preliminary injunction gives new hope to many TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holders, but only an act of Congress is likely to deliver a long-term solution.


A federal district judge in the Northern District of California, Judge Edward Chen, has issued a preliminary injunction that gives new hope to many TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holders. It's not a final action--the case of Ramos v. Nielsen is still going through the litigation process--but it serves to temporarily block the Trump administration from following through on its termination of TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

The result is to give over 300,000 people from these countries a longer time in which to remain in the United States and seek another way to gain permanent resident status, if they wish to. It will also allow them to remain longer with U.S. citizen children who were born here during their long stay.

In issuing his decision to issue the injunction, the judge focused on such issues as:

  • the harm that TPS beneficiaries and their children will suffer having lived, worked, and raised families in the United States (many for more than a decade), noting that "Many have U.S.-born children; those may be faced with the Hobson’s choice of bringing their children with them (and tearing them away from the only country and community they have known) or splitting their families apart"
  • the impact on local and national economies, including a projected $132.6 billion reduction in GDP due to lost earnings and decreased industry outputs, a $5.2 billion reduction in Social Security and Medicare contributions, and a total of $733 million in employers’ turnover costs
  • the international ramifications, given that returning people to the countries in question would put a strain on their systems and potentially spur further migration to the United States, plus the Department of Defense's concern that termination of Sudan’s TPS designation could negatively affect U.S. foreign policy interests, and
  • the possibility that the TPS decisions were based not on justifiable criteria but simply hewed to presidential orders, and were motivated by racial animus against non-white, non-European immigrants, thus violating the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Only when the litigation is over will we know the final result for this program. The scheduling for this case going forward has yet to be determined.

No matter what happens next, however, immigration advocates worry that the administration will fight this case all the way to the the Supreme Court, which is on its way to being packed with people loyal to the current administration.

The best hope for a fair solution to the plight of people whose TPS status is soon to expire is the U.S. Congress, which has been speaking of overhauling the immigration system for years--thus far with no action.

In the meantime, if you have TPS from one of these countries, you need not do anything yet.

Although TPS for Sudan and Nicaragua was set to run out soon (and thus your documents may look like they're expired), the U.S. government announced in the Federal Register that it is automatically extending through April 2, 2019, the validity of TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Forms I-797, Notice of Action (Approval Notice), and Forms I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) for TPS beneficiaries from Sudan and Nicaragua. (You must, of course, remain otherwise individually eligible for TPS.)

The government intends to publish a later notice describing the steps it will take after April 2, 2019 to continue compliance with the court's preliminary injunction.

Effective Date: October 3, 2018