This page was last updated on July 19, 2022.
A Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation allows immigrants from certain countries that are experiencing extraordinary and temporary conditions to remain in the United States until they can safely return home. Under existing immigration law, the U.S. secretary of homeland security is authorized to designate a country for TPS if it meets certain conditions that temporarily prevent its nationals from safely returning home or if it is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. The secretary may designate a country for TPS due to an ongoing armed conflict, such as civil war; an environmental disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane; or other extraordinary, temporary conditions. Those who apply for and are granted TPS receive a stay of deportation and an opportunity to apply for a work permit.
Only individuals who are already living in the United States at the date of the TPS designation or redesignation are protected. As of June 2022, 15 countries had TPS designations: Afghanistan, Burma, Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen. The Federal Register notices for the two most recent designations, Ukraine and Cameroon, were published in April and June 2022, respectively. As of February 2022, an estimated 354,625 immigrants were protected under TPS.
TPS holders’ ties to the United States
Most TPS holders have long lived in the United States; the two largest groups of TPS holders, Hondurans and Salvadorans, include immigrants who have lived in the country since 1998 and 2001, respectively. Nearly half a million U.S. citizens, including 279,000 children under age 18, live with a family member who is a TPS holder. Furthermore, TPS holders contribute significantly to the U.S. economy, working in sectors from construction to child care. TPS holders and their households contribute $2.3 billion in federal taxes and $1.3 billion in state and local taxes annually and hold more than $10.1 billion in spending power.
TPS holders contribute significantly to the U.S. economy, working in sectors from construction to child care.
The economic contributions of TPS holders go beyond the United States. Their remittances improve the lives of their families abroad and could help mitigate root and acute causes of migration. Remittances serve as a lifeline for many families in Northern Triangle countries, who rely on this money to afford basic needs including food, medicine, education, and health care.
Recent TPS litigation
Despite TPS holders’ economic contributions in the United States and their close ties to the communities in which they live, the futures of many TPS holders are currently under threat.
Ramos v. Nielsen
Beginning in late 2017, the Trump administration announced decisions to terminate TPS designations for Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, followed by El Salvador, Honduras, and Nepal. In March 2018, TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador—and their U.S.-citizen children—filed a lawsuit, Ramos v. Nielsen, against the federal government’s decision to terminate TPS for the four countries. They argued that the federal government did not follow the Administrative Procedure Act’s standard of providing a reasoned explanation before ending the TPS designations and acted out of racism.
Later that year, the plaintiffs won a preliminary injunction; the Trump administration was required to extend TPS protections and work authorization to TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador for the duration of the lawsuit. As of July 2022, the case has been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; a hearing has yet to be scheduled but is expected for later in the summer.
Bhattarai v. Nielsen
On February 10, 2019, TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal and their U.S.-citizen children filed a lawsuit challenging the termination of TPS for Honduras and Nepal. In Bhattarai v. Nielsen, the plaintiffs made arguments similar to those in Ramos. On March 12, 2019, the parties in Bhattarai—TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal, and the federal government—filed a joint stipulation asking the Supreme Court to temporarily halt the termination of TPS for immigrants from Honduras and Nepal and pause proceedings in the case until the Ramos appeal is decided.
Congressional action needed to provide durable solution for TPS recipients
TPS protects beneficiaries from deportation and grants them the opportunity to apply for a work permit. But only congressional action can provide a pathway to permanent protection and citizenship for the nearly 360,000 TPS beneficiaries. Furthermore, new designations and redesignations of countries that clearly meet the conditions for TPS could help prevent countries that are already facing severe issues from experiencing further destabilization.
Only congressional action can provide a pathway to permanent protection and citizenship for the nearly 360,000 TPS beneficiaries.
TPS resources from CAP
Below are the Center for American Progress’ top resources on TPS.
The root causes and issues of migration
This piece emphasizes how new TPS designations and redesignations for Central American countries hit by hurricanes would promote recovery and rebuilding.
This piece includes data that prove TPS designations do not increase irregular immigration to the United States.
This piece describes how remittances are a lifeline for communities across TPS-designated countries, with people relying on this source of income to pay for basic needs ranging from food and medicine to education and health care.
This piece, written prior to Cameroon’s TPS designation in April 2022, highlights conditions in Cameroon that made its TPS designation critical.
Demographic and economic profiles of TPS recipients
This piece includes data on TPS holders, their families, and their economic contributions in all 50 states.
This fact sheet highlights the harmful effects that ending TPS could have on TPS holders’ children, outlining three possible scenarios.
This piece highlights the crucial role that TPS holders play in the rebuilding efforts of U.S. states hit hardest by weather and climate disasters.
This video shows how the uncertainty surrounding DACA recipients and TPS holders is affecting students.
- Promising Returns: How Embracing Immigrants with TPS can Contribute to Family Stability, Economic Growth, and Fiscal Health
Drawing from three interviews with TPS holders, this piece, produced in collaboration with the University of California Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, includes data on the demographic characteristics and economic contributions of TPS holders.
This report highlights findings from the first-ever systematic survey of Nepali TPS holders, which CAP conducted in collaboration with Adhikaar and the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego.
This fact sheet includes data on the demographic characteristics of TPS holders and their economic contributions in each U.S. state.
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