What is TPS?
Temporary Protected Status or TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to individuals residing in the Untied States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. TPS is managed under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. During the period for which a country has been designated for TPS, TPS beneficiaries may remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization. However, TPS does not lead to permanent resident status. When the Secretary terminates a TPS designation, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS (unless that status had since expired or been terminated) or to any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS.
Who is eligible for TPS?
Nationals of countries that meet certain criteria outlined by the Department of Homeland Security, who apply in a timely manner for TPS benefits, establish the necessary continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States as specified by each designation, have no criminal record and are not bared by asylum issues or terrorism charges qualify for TPS.
What countries currently have TPS?
Burundi, Somalia and Sudan have TPS as well as El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua were granted extensions of TPS in 2008 because they are still recovering from natural disasters.
Haiti, having suffered the devastating effects of two tropical storms and two hurricanes in 2008 alone, has not been granted TPS and over 30,000 Haitians now stand to be deported to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. These storms have caused hundreds of deaths, uprooted and displaced thousands of Haitians, and destroyed some communities completely, creating the environmental conditions that should invoke TPS. Beyond the storms, Haiti continues to be plagued by political instability, insecurity and poverty. Haiti is by far the poorest and least-developed country in the western hemisphere, with more than half of its people living on less than $1 per day, and 80% living on less than $2 per day. One-third of its children are malnourished and 500,000 cannot go to school. The unemployment rate is estimated to be 60%. Rather than deporting Haitian nationals to a country that clearly cannot absorb or provide for them, these individuals should be permitted to remain in the United States and earn wages that will contribute to the reconstruction of their country. Granting TPS to Haitians would provide them with the ability to legally work and contribute to the reconstruction of their country until it is safe to return.
The Episcopal Church’s Commitment to the Haitian Cause
The Episcopal Church Executive Council resolved in June of 2004 to call on the U.S. Government to take actions that would alleviate the suffering in Haiti and bring justice and peace. The Executive Council also urged the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to extend temporary protected status to Haitians, and to end the interdiction policy. In June 2005 the Executive Council resolved to continue advocacy for TPS for Haitians. In 2008 the Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori, after a trip to Haiti sent a letter to then President Bush requesting TPS for Haitians. The House of Bishop reiterated this request to President Obama in a letter sent in March of 2009.