Hope for TPS as Congress Introduces Four Bills
As Temporary Protected Status for nationals from a variety of countries has fallen one by one, lawmakers are stepping up to fill the gap to alleviate the hardship that hundreds of thousands of people living and working in the US now face. Immigration lawyers in Portland and throughout the country have watched in horror as well-integrated immigrants now face agonizing decisions about what to do.
Four different bills have been filed in Congress during fall 2017, all with the aim of allowing TPS holders to adjust status and shed the impermanence with which they have lived, sometimes for decades. The bills vary in scope and legal benefits. Some are far stricter than others. But they all intend to address the injustice of being subject to political winds of fortune.1
TPS Bills in the House
Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida was the first to introduce his bill, called ESPERER. His bill is the most limited in scope and is intended to help nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Only those who had TPS on January 12, 2011 and who currently still have TPS would be eligible to adjust status. Those eligible would need one year of continuous physical presence in the US.
Representative Nydia Velasquez of New York filed the second bill, known as the American Promise Act of 2017. Her bill would cover anyone with TPS or DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) on January 1, 2017. Applicants would need three years of continuous physical presence.
The third bill, the ASPIRE-TPS Act of 2017, was submitted by Representative Yvette Clark, also of New York. Her bill would give TPS or DED to eligible applicants for 6 years – much longer than the current 6-18 months. It would also allow applicants who can show extreme hardship to themselves or eligible family members to adjust status. Her bill would cover all countries eligible for TPS as of January 1, 2017. It would require five years of continuous physical presence in the US.
Senate TPS Bill
The fourth bill, the SECURE Act, was introduced by Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland. It is the most expansive of the bills. It would allow anyone who has ever held TPS to be eligible to adjust status. In fact, it’s so expansive that it would allow anyone who would qualify for TPS to adjust status. Applicants would need to be continuously present for three years, as well as present when they apply.
These four bills are dramatically different in the details, but they all seek to provide an answer to the pressing question of what to do with all those hard-working immigrants who have built up lives in the United States but are in limbo. They should have some permanent resolution to their immigration situation. However, given how little progress Congress seems to be making on DACA reform, it seems difficult to see people coming together to provide help for another politically-charged group of immigrants 2. It’s sad to see how politics can upend the lives of unsuspecting individuals and families.
1 – https://justiceforimmigrants.org/2016site/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/TPS-Comparison-bills-1.pdf
2 – http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article184153726.htm