US Extends Protection for Migrants from Six Countries

05 September 2023

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced it is extending temporary protection from deportation to migrants from six countries.

Nationals of Sudan, Ukraine, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal and Nicaragua can remain in the United States under the extended policy.

The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program permits migrants, whose home countries are considered unsafe, to live and work in the United States. They can do so under the program although they do not have normal legal permission to be in the country. However, they can only be in the U.S. for a set period of time, and they must meet U.S. government requirements.

FILE - Demonstrators participate in the March for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) Justice during a protest in support of permanent residency, outside the White House in Washington, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
FILE - Demonstrators participate in the March for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) Justice during a protest in support of permanent residency, outside the White House in Washington, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Daniel Costa is director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, an organization based in Washington, D.C. Costa said current TPS holders have high employment rates and add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy every year.

"TPS raises wages authorization for people who don't have it...Higher wages also mean more spending back in the economy, which creates more jobs," he said.

The United States first gave Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador Temporary Protected Status more than 20 years ago. When the Biden administration extended TPS for those countries in June, it was for people who were current TPS holders.

If the Biden administration again gives those countries temporary protected status, it would expand TPS for many people. It would permit any qualifying migrant who entered the U.S. during the last 20 years to receive TPS.

A report by the Niskanen Center, a Washington-based policy research organization, said the "vast majority" of TPS holders are employed.

"More than 94 percent of TPS holders were in the labor force as of 2017," the report stated. It said that they worked in industries including sales and health care. The 2017 report warned that ending TPS for just El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti would cause the U.S. economy to lose over $160 billion over 10 years.

Adding new countries

Immigrant organizations have called for the U.S. to give new TPS designations. They hope the government will add Mauritania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the program.

Nils Kinuani is the immigration coordinator for the Congolese Community of Washington Metropolitan. He told VOA the group had conversations with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in April.

"We have been also working with congressional leaders to push for this designation," Kinuani said.

The U.S. Department of State says the DRC is suffering a humanitarian crisis marked by over 20 years of civil war and conflict.

Leaders of Black Mauritanians say the U.S. had an earlier policy of not deporting Mauritanians because of the country's human-rights record. Haddy Gassama is with the organization UndocuBlack Network. She wrote that the abuses "include the practice of enslaving Black people" and keeping a system of apartheid.

Apartheid is a political system of racial separation.

In January, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican Representative Mike Carey sent a letter to Biden and other government officials to support TPS for Mauritanians living in the U.S. without legal permission.

Congress established TPS in 1990. Currently, 16 countries are designated for the program.

Current TPS holders who want to extend their protection must register again during the 60-day registration period for their country's designation. Re-registration opens soon for four countries, starting with El Salvador on September 10.

TPS designations are set for six, 12, or 18 months. About two months before a country's TPS ends, the DHS secretary has to decide if the U.S. will end or extend the TPS.

The TPS program does not lead to permanent U.S. residency. As of March, about 610,000 foreign nationals held temporary protected status.

TPS holders who leave the U.S. without first getting a travel authorization may lose their TPS status and may not reenter the country.

I'm Andrew Smith. And I'm Gena Bennett.

Aline Barros wrote this story for Voice of America. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

deportation –n. the process of legally removing someone from a country who is not permitted by law to be in that country

wages –n. (pl.) money paid to a worker in exchange for the amount of time they worked

authorization –n. official permission to do, have or act as something

vast –adj. very large in size or extent

designation –n. the act of officially naming or choosing someone or something; the state of being named to a position or status under the law

residency –n. the status of legally being permitted to live in a place