Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today with 24 Senate colleagues wrote to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urging Secretaries Rex Tillerson and John Kelly to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of nationals currently residing in the United States. The TPS designation is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to foreign nationals in the United States and countries devastated by natural disasters, armed conflict, or other extraordinary conditions. Currently, there are over 320,000 TPS holders in the United States from 10 countries with deadlines set to expire at the end of the year and beginning of 2018. These countries include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
“We urge you to review each of the designations closely, taking into consideration conditions on the ground and remaining mindful of the possibility that ending TPS and ordering the return of recipients could undermine fragile recovery efforts or put individuals in harm’s way,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “Continuing to extend TPS for the 10 currently designated countries serves our national security interests and demonstrates to our allies abroad that the United States is a leader in humanitarian efforts.”
The TPS designation is implemented through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to immigrants residing in the United States who are unable to safely return to their home country. TPS can be granted in the event of an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster as well as other extraordinary and temporary conditions. TPS recipients are fully vetted and are required to undergo background checks to ensure that they are not risks to public safety or national security.
Once granted TPS, individuals may not be deported, can obtain an employment authorization document and may be granted travel authorization. In addition, individuals cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of their immigration status. Today’s letter comes after Senator Menendez joined the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week in a meeting with Secretary Kelly about the Trump administration’s immigration policies including the future of Temporary Protected Status designations. Upon questioning, Secretary Kelly was non-committal in laying out a clear future that ensures the United States continues to show our leadership in extending protection to TPS recipients as their countries recover.
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