Politically Motivated Decisions on TPS Remain Hidden behind a Lack of Transparency

For Immediate Release

July 13, 2020
CONTACT: Khaled Alrabe, khaled@nipnlg.org


WASHINGTON, D.C. —Immigrant rights advocates filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on Friday, July 10, 2020 to compel the release of records related to the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Months after the initial information request, federal agencies continue to unlawfully withhold records concerning the possible racial animus toward immigrants of color with TPS.

Represented by counsel from the National Immigration Project at the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) and the Catholic Immigration Network (CLINIC); Alianza Americas, and the National TPS Alliance brought this litigation after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State (DOS) all failed to respond in a timely manner to their FOIA request.

TPS is a designation that protects from deportation people from certain countries experiencing natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions that would make it dangerous to return. Since 2017, the Trump administration has attempted to end TPS for nine countries (El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), appearing to rely on racially motivated reasoning rather than experts on country conditions within USCIS and DOS. All attempts are currently subject to legal injunctions.

This suit is seeking records related to the government’s reliance on a racist “America First” policy in the administration of TPS. Among other things, it is seeking information about how USCIS is adjudicating TPS re-registration and EAD applications, information about decisions to extend but not redesignate TPS for a number of countries (South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia), and also information about DHS’s failure to designate Guatemala and Venezuela.

Yanira Arias, National Campaigns Manager for Alianza Americas stated:
“As a TPS holder from El Salvador who has been protected by TPS for almost two decades, and as an organizer advocating for all TPS holders, it is very important to have access to these critical documents that DHS, USCIS and DOS again and again refuse to share with us. Transparency is critical to find a fare solution. We won’t stop in our efforts to bring this issue to the attention of decision makers and the public,” stated Yanira Arias, TPS holder from El Salvador and National Campaigns Manager at Alianza Americas.

Khaled Alrabe, Staff Attorney for NIPNLG, stated:
“In the face of legal challenges to Trump’s unlawful attacks on TPS, the administration has once again weaponized its own bureaucracy to punish immigrants, violating the letter and spirit of the injunctions protecting TPS holders. USCIS continues to drag its feet in providing essential work permits to thousands of TPS holders living and working in the United States. Transparency is absolutely critical to resolve these issues and let TPS workers get back to living their lives and contributing to the nation’s economic recovery and this litigation is critical to achieving that transparency.”

William Martinez, organizer with the National TPS Alliance, stated:

“We know about the racist worldview behind Trump’s efforts to deny our families permanent residency.  As we face the imminent threat of losing our legal status, it’s time for the federal government to come clean so it can address this injustice.”

Download the complaint here »