*UPDATED* TPS Lawsuit Information
On February 10, 2019, TPS holders and U.S. citizen children of TPS holders filed a new lawsuit challenging the termination of TPS for Honduras and Nepal. The new lawsuit follows on the heels of an earlier suit, Ramos v. Nielsen, which challenged the termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.
What are the lawsuits about?
Since taking office, President Trump has terminated TPS for over 95% of all TPS holders. In Ramos v. Nielsen, TPS holders and their U.S citizen children challenged the termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador. The district court found that substantial evidence that the terminations were motivated by racism in violation of the constitution and applied a new standard for TPS decisions without any explanation, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The court issued a preliminary injunction, ordering the government to continue TPS and work authorization for TPS holders from the four countries while the lawsuit continues. Ramos is currently on appeal.
After Ramos was filed, the Trump Administration terminated TPS for two additional countries: Honduras and Nepal. The new lawsuit—Bhattarai v. Nielsen—argues that the termination of TPS for Honduras and Nepal suffer from the same flaws as the termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador, and should also be enjoined.
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?
Ramos v. Nielson was filed by nine TPS holders – from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan – and five children of TPS holders who were born in the United States.
Bhattarai v. Nielsen was filed by six TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal and two US citizen children of TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal.
Why did TPS holders and their children file this case?
TPS holders and the U.S. citizen children of TPS holders filed the lawsuits to prevent the Trump Administration from carrying out its decision to end TPS protections. Plaintiffs in Ramos have won a preliminary injunction requiring the Trump Administration to extend TPS protections and work authorization to TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador while the lawsuit is ongoing. Plaintiffs in the newly filed lawsuit, Bhattarai v. Nielsen, seek similar protection.
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 these lawsuits 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?
Both lawsuits argue that DHS’s decision to terminate TPS is illegal for four 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 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.
Third, DHS’s decisions to terminate TPS were based on intentional discrimination in violation of the Constitution.
Fourth, DHS violated TPS holders due process rights when it applied new, unexplained standard to TPS decisions and made TPS decisions based on discriminatory reasons.
What is the result of the lawsuits?
As a result of the preliminary injunction entered in Ramos, TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador will receive automatic nine-month extensions of their TPS and work authorization every nine months while the lawsuit is ongoing.
Plaintiff in Bhattarai seek similar protection.
Ultimately, Plaintiffs in both cases seek to set aside the unlawful decision to terminate TPS.
Importantly, even if Plaintiffs win both cases, no court cannot grant lawful permanent residence status to TPS holders. Only Congress can do that.
Where were the cases filed?
Both cases were 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 a case, its decision can be appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Ramos is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. 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, these lawsuits 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.