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A Latinx Resource Guide: Civil Rights Cases and Events in the United States

1990: Temporary Protection Status (TPS)

Carol M Highsmith, photographer. Mural, Balmy Alley, San Francisco, California. 2009. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The George H.W. Bush administration enacted the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) program, permitting eligible nationals or citizens from designated countries to maintain temporary juridical immigration or refugee status, work authorization, and protection from deportation. Today, approximately 411,000 individuals from 10 different designated countries hold TPS with Venezuelans qualifying most recently due to legislation in 2019.

The United States grants TPS to people from countries experiencing environmental disasters, armed hostilities, or abnormal emergencies. TPS offers no direct path to permanent residency status or citizenship but it is renewable with designated time periods ranging from six to 18 months. El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua have held TPS designation since the late 1990s and Central Americans make up the majority of individuals with TPS. Large TPS populations residing in Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Maryland contribute millions of dollars to the nation’s GDP, social security fund, and Medicare. They also maintain legal guardianship of U.S. born children.

The U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security are responsible for designating, renewing, or eliminating a country’s TPS eligibility. In 2017 and 2018 the Department of Homeland Security issued TPS terminations for Central American countries. In response TPS recipients and their children filed two class action lawsuits--Ramos v. Nielsen and Bhattari et al v. Nielsen, claiming the terminations are unlawful. Both lawsuits were consolidated in 2019 by Judge Edward Chen, who ruled for an injunction that prevents the termination of TPS until all litigations are final. In September 2020, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the injunction, permitting the termination of TPS for Central American countries. The plaintiffs may appeal this decision, leading to further litigation.

In July 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced and passed the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 to extend temporary protection status to Venezuelans fleeing humanitarian and economic crises in their native country. As of November 2020, the act is pending a legislative decision from the Senate.

Timeline

1990 Congress creates TPS to establish a uniform system for granting temporary protection to people unable to return to their home countries because of a political or environmental catastrophe. The United States grants TPS to nationals of El Salvador that same year.
November 1998 Following Hurricane Mitch’s destruction, Attorney General Janet Reno halts deportation of individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
December 1998 Required arrival date into the United States for eligible Honduran and Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries.
January 1999 The Attorney General designates TPS for Nicaragua and Honduras after Hurricane Mitch devastates these countries.
February 13, 2001 Required arrival date into the United States for eligible Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries.
November 2017 The Department of Homeland Security issues a statement for the termination TPS for Nicaragua to be effective on January 5, 2019.
January 8, 2018 The Department of Homeland Security issues a statement for the termination TPS for El Salvador to be effective on September 9, 2019.
May 4, 2018 The Department of Homeland Security issues a statement for the termination TPS for Honduras to be effective on January 5, 2020.
March 12, 2018 A group of TPS holders and their children from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan file Ramos v. Nielsen as a class action suit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Northern California against the Department of Homeland Security for discontinuing TPS without public notice.
October 3, 2018 Judge Edward Chen upholds an injunction that prevents the termination of TPS for El Salvador and Nicaragua until litigations are final.
February 10, 2019 A group of TPS holders and their children from Nepal and Nicaragua file Bhattari et al v. Nielsen as a class action suit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Northern California against the Department of Homeland Security for the discontinuation of TPS without public notice.
March 12, 2019 Judge Edward Chen merges Bhattari et al v. Nielsen and Ramos v. Nielsen and prevents the termination of TPS for people from Honduras (and holders from 5 other countries).
November 4, 2019 The Department of Homeland guarantees TPS to Central American countries (El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras) until January 4, 2021 and rules that if TPS is terminated, the deadline of statutory status within the U.S. will vary by country.
September 15, 2020 The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appeals the injunction and permits the expiration of TPS; the decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
July 25, 2019 The Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 is passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Resources

The following resources are available online at the Library of Congress.

Staff in the Hispanic Reading Room can provide access to these books at the Library of Congress. If you cannot visit the Library in person, please contact us using Ask a Librarian for assistance. In many cases, you can also find these materials at your local library.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

The following external websites can be useful for expanding your research on the Temporary Protection Status (TPS).