Suzanne Potter
Public News Service – CA

SAN FRANCISCO – About 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan can breathe a sigh of relief – at least for now. A federal court judge in San Francisco has blocked the Trump administration from ending their Temporary Protected Status.

TPS holders will now be allowed to stay in the United States, at least until the case plays out in court. Many have lived here legally for decades, and got TPS status when disasters befell their home countries.

Charlie Hinton, a member of the Haiti Action Committee of the Bay Area, notes the judge found the Trump administration’s decision “arbitrary,” and suggested it was based on animus toward immigrant families of color.

“It’s another example of the government trying to break up families, because many TPS holders have children and spouses that were born in this country,” says Hinton. “And so, if they deport the TPS holders, children and spouses are going to have to make a decision about whether they go to a place many of them have never been or don’t know.”

A person’s TPS status has to be renewed every 18 months, and the feds had declared that TPS extensions would not be granted in 98 percent of cases. The threat was most pressing for TPS holders from Sudan, who could have been deported starting next month.

The administration is vowing to fight the decision, pointing out that the TPS program was always meant to be temporary.

Hinton protests that these people’s countries of origin are wracked by criminal gangs, poverty and in some cases, war – and it would be inhumane to send so many people back.

“It would cause a huge disruption, not only in people’s lives here, but in the societies where they’re supposed to return,” says Hinton. “And there’s no opportunities for them there.”

TPS holders are asking Congress to pass a bill granting them a path to permanent resident status. Advocates for TPS holders from Honduras are also fighting to keep them in the U.S. through a separate lawsuit.