TPS Lawsuit Information
On March 12, 2018, TPS holders and U.S. citizen children of TPS holders sued the Trump Administration to challenge the termination of TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua.
What is the lawsuit about?
In 2017-18, the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated TPS status for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.
The lawsuit argues that these decisions to terminate TPS violated the rights of the TPS holders—and the U.S. citizen children of TPS holders
Who is affected by Trump Administration’s decision to terminate TPS?
There are over 400,000 persons legally living in the United States with TPS. TPS holders gained their status after natural or manmade disasters, such as earthquakes and civil wars, in their countries of nationality. In the wake of the disasters, the U.S. government granted humanitarian relief (in the form of TPS) to people from the affected countries who were already living in the United States. While TPS provides protection for short periods only (up to 18 months), for the countries at issue in the lawsuit, the U.S. government has extended TPS repeatedly—for at least eight years, and in the case of most countries for more than 15 years—based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return. Thus, most TPS holders have been living in this country for over a decade—raising families here, going to school, working, and being active members of their communities. The decision to terminate TPS threatens the stability and safety of the TPS holders and their families.
There are also over 200,000 U.S. citizen children of TPS holders. These children have often never been to the country their parents are from. If the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate TPS stands, and the TPS holders lose their ability to legally live in the United States, their children will have to decide whether to stay in their home country—the United States—and face separation from their families, or stay with their family in a country they do not know.
Who filed the lawsuit?
Nine TPS holders – from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan – and five children of TPS holders who were born in the United States, brought the suit.
Why did TPS holders and their children file this case?
TPS holders and the U.S. citizen children of TPS holders filed the lawsuit to prevent the Trump Administration from carrying out its decision to end TPS protections. They have requested a court order declaring that the decision to terminate TPS was illegal because it violates the fundamental rights of TPS holders’ U.S. citizen children and because it was based on racism and other unlawful considerations.
TPS holders have relied on repeated extensions of TPS to build their lives and become integral members of their communities, their work-places, and this country.
TPS holders and their families filed this lawsuit to stand up for themselves and for the hundreds of thousands of others affected across the country.
What are the main arguments in the lawsuit?
This lawsuit argues that DHS’s decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan is illegal for at least three reasons.
First, school-age U.S. citizen children have the fundamental constitutional right to live in the U.S. But they also have the fundamental right live with—and be raised by—their parents. These rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit argues that forcing these children to choose between their families and their country is unconstitutional.
Second, the lawsuit argues the government illegally changed the rules for how DHS determines whether to extend or terminate TPS, without any formal announcement and without going through required procedures. This type of unpredictable behavior by DHS violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
Finally, the lawsuit argues that DHS’s decisions to terminate TPS were based on intentional discrimination in violation of the Constitution.
What can the court do?
We cannot predict what the courts will do and we cannot guarantee that we will win the case, but we can identify some possible outcomes if we do win:
- The court could determine that the Trump Administration’s decisions to terminate TPS for Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan were based on unlawful considerations and cannot take effect. While this would provide temporary relief for TPS holders, it would not necessarily prevent the Trump Administration (or a different Administration) from trying to end TPS again at some later date based on new, different, lawful
- The court could determine that it is unconstitutional to force school-age U.S. citizen children to chose between their countries and their families and prohibit the government from rescinding TPS status from TPS holders with school-age children.
Importantly, even if we win the case, the court cannot grant lawful permanent residence status to TPS holders. Only Congress can do that.
Where was this case filed?
This case was filed in a federal district court in San Francisco in what is called the Northern District of California, which is part of the Ninth Circuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. Under the Supreme Court are federal Courts of Appeals. There are thirteen courts of appeals in the United States, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit hears cases that are appealed from fifteen federal district courts, which are located in Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington.
Once the district court decides this case, its decision can be appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit must consider an appeal. The decision of the Ninth Circuit can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has discretion to choose whether or not to review the case.
What can people do to support and participate efforts to achieve justice for those with TPS and their families?
This lawsuit is only one piece of our efforts to save TPS. This is a people-powered movement and we need your help.
Join the National TPS Alliance. TPS holders and other concerned community members across the country can join the National TPS Alliance to support the plaintiffs and others who are fighting against Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. The National TPS Alliance is led by TPS holders from across the United States to advocate to save TPS and to create a pathway to permanent residency for all TPS holders. To get involved in your local TPS committee, please see the committees page here.
Call your representatives. You can also get involved by calling your local representatives and tell them that you want them to act to save TPS. For instructions on how to do this, visit the take action page here.
Stay informed. To stay up to date on news regarding TPS and this lawsuit, follow the National TPS Alliance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also follow the TPS Youth Committee on Facebook or Instagram.
Donate. The National TPS Alliance needs financial contributions to sustain its work to save TPS. You can donate to our organizing efforts here.
Even if we win, this lawsuit will not resolve everything. We need people and grassroots support to protect TPS and get a pathway to permanent residency for TPS holders. Join our plaintiffs and stand with TPS holders to fight for justice.