A federal appeals court panel said the Trump administration can cancel humanitarian protections for 300,000 immigrants from Nicaragua, Haiti, Sudan and El Salvador.
The decision means that many immigrants who have stayed in the United States could eventually be deported.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) — form of humanitarian relief — applies to individuals in the United States who would face serious hardship if forced to return to their country devastated by wars, armed conflict or natural disasters, and allows them to work in the United States legally.
The Trump administration have always criticized TPS, arguing that repeated extension of the status are against its purpose and moved to remove protections for certain countries.
In a 2-1 ruling Monday, a judicial panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that, under the TPS statutes, the Homeland Security department secretary “possesses full discretion as to whether to consider intervening events in making a TPS determination.”
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) spokesperson Dan Hetlage said in a statement the agency is “reviewing the decision and will release updates as they are available.”
Holders of TPS and their US citizen children had questioned and challenged the planned move to end the protections, arguing that the decisions was motivated by racism.
The court panel’s majority argued that “there is still no evidentiary support for the conclusion that this goal was motivated by racism.”
A lower court had earlier blocked the government’s plan, and the plaintiffs said they will ask the full 9th Circuit to review the decision.
“This administration has failed me and the other 250,000 US citizen children of TPS holders. If this decision pull through, it means Trump’s termination of TPS will continue and TPS holders will only have until Jan. 2021 to legally live and work in the U.S,” stated Crista Ramos, lead plaintiff in the case.
Last year, the Homeland Security department announced that the government would extend work permits validity for El Salvadorans with protected status through Jan. 4, 2021.
That decision came immediately after an agreement with El Salvador that would allow the United States to send some asylum seekers to that country to look for humanitarian protections there.
As a result, El Salvadorans with protected status have an extra year after the conclusion of the TPS-related lawsuits to move back to their home country.