November 15, 2017

Van Hollen, Cardin, Feinstein Introduce Legislation to Protect TPS Recipients

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), along with Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), introduced the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and in Emergency (SECURE) Act. This legislation would allow qualified Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients to apply for legal permanent residency.

"For decades, our country has welcomed and protected immigrants fleeing violence and turmoil around the world," said Senator Van Hollen. "These men and women have lived here legally for years - they have jobs and businesses and are our neighbors. We cannot in good faith send them back to some of the most dangerous places in the world. I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation, and give these families certainty and security."

"Congress needs to pass legislation to protect those with TPS. We need to give predictability and safety to people who are in uncertain status, and we need to stand up for the American values of compassion and diversity that have made this country stronger," said Senator Cardin. "Ending TPS will rip families apart and we cannot let that happen. We want the president to do the right thing, but only Congress can provide the permanent relief that is needed to take away the fear that families have right now."

"Our bill would provide a path to citizenship for those who have been living, working and raising U.S. citizen children in the United States for two decades," said Senator Feinstein. "These individuals have established deep roots in their communities. It would be cruel and inhumane to separate these families."

TPS is a temporary, legal status granted to foreign citizens who are endangered by conditions in their home country such as ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, epidemic, or other extraordinary events. Currently, there are approximately 437,000 people with TPS in the United States from ten designated countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. TPS status is granted for set periods ranging from six to 18 months, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to extend a country's status on a recurring basis. Every time a country is recertified, recipients must reapply and pass a thorough background check.

TPS recipients now face uncertainty as the Trump Administration has failed to recertify their designations or to provide clarity on future designations. This uncertainty and the continued dangerous circumstances in their home countries has created considerable hardship for TPS recipients and their families, including American-born children. The SECURE Act will provide stability for these individuals and their communities by giving them the ability to apply for legal permanent residency. Under the bill, all TPS recipients who were qualified under the most recent TPS designation and who have been continuously present in the United States for at least three years would be eligible to apply for legal permanent residency.

Senators Van Hollen, Cardin, and Feinstein were joined in introducing this legislation by Senators Reed (D-R.I.), Hirono (D-HI), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Markey (Mass.), Harris (D-Calif.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Warren (D-Mass.).

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here. The text of the bill can be found here.