In the month headed into Congress’s August recess, much of the attention in the immigration space has been correctly focused on protecting the DACA policy that shields nearly 800,000 youth from deportation, pushing back on the Trump budget proposal, which would take funding for deportations to unprecedented levels, and picking up the pieces from the painful effects and consequences of the ramped-up interior enforcement on predominantly Latino immigrant families. Not to be lost in the shuffle, however, is another very important issue percolating in the not-too-distant background. Within the next six months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected status (TPS) designations that could impact over a quarter of a million Latinos from Central America, some of whom have been residing in the United States for nearly 20 years.
TPS is a humanitarian tool established by legislation giving the executive branch a way to provide temporary status to some of the most vulnerable populations in the country. Under TPS, people already residing in the United States may be designated for protection due to an ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or presence of extraordinary and temporary condition in their country of origin. TPS beneficiaries are eligible to work legally in the country and may apply to travel abroad for so long as the U.S. government determines that protected status continues to be warranted—a decision that is typically assessed 18 months after an initial designation or a preceding TPS extension.