THE LATEST: On March 21, 2022 USCIS agreed to restore a path to permanent residency for Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries. Because of this settlement, TPS beneficiaries impacted by then-Acting Director Cuccinelli’s policy will be able to reopen and dismiss their removal orders and apply to adjust their status to become permanent residents—eliminating the threat of deportation if their TPS protections are revoked in the future. For more information:
- The settlement is available here.
- The Joint Motion to Reopen and Unopposed Motion to Dismiss Proceedings is available here.
- A press release in English is available here.
- A press release in Spanish is available here.
- A webinar was held on April 7, 2022 to review the terms of this Settlement Agreement and describe how and until when impacted noncitizens can take advantage of its terms. For more information and an archived version of the webinar visit the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Slides presented during this webinar are also available here.
- Additional resources have been made available by CARECEN on their website.
Temporary Protected Status provides protection to immigrants from countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster, or an epidemic, allowing them to lawfully remain in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries have taken that opportunity to establish families, businesses, and strong community ties in the United States.
In December 2019, the illegally appointed then-Acting Director of USCIS, Ken Cuccinelli, abruptly and inexplicably upended a long-standing practice that previously allowed TPS recipients a path to become a permanent resident. As a result, under the unlawful change, many TPS beneficiaries could no longer satisfy eligibility requirements for adjustment of status and become effectively barred from even the opportunity to become a permanent resident.
USCIS offered no explanation for this change, and did not acknowledge the serious disruption this change imposed on the lives of TPS beneficiaries and legal service providers who work on their behalf.
The administration’s inexplicable departure from its prior practice prevented many of the over 400,000 TPS beneficiaries living in the U.S. from becoming permanent residents. Permanent resident status would allow beneficiaries, like the individual plaintiffs in this case, to permanently remain in the country in which they have established deep and meaningful ties over years. This measure of security was especially important, given that the Trump administration sought to end the TPS program altogether for many of the designated countries.
On behalf of seven individuals and the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), we sued the Trump administration on August 26, 2020 for unlawfully impeding TPS beneficiaries’ pathway to permanent residency in the U.S. This disruptive change was issued by USCIS without any advance notice or opportunity for public input, without explanation, and in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The rule was also invalid because it was authorized by Cuccinelli, whose appointment as Acting Director of USCIS was ruled illegal by a federal court in March in response to our lawsuit L.M.-M. et al. v. Cuccinelli et al.
In October, 2020, highlighting plaintiff experiences, we asked the Court to halt unlawful termination of TPS policy. Beneficiaries explained the harm Ken Cuccinelli’s unlawful policy had caused them and requested the Court grant a preliminary injunction to block USCIS’ end of TPS protections.
We partnered with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), Montagut & Sobral PC, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP on this suit.