Settlement Follows a 2020 Lawsuit Brought By TPS Beneficiaries and Advocates Over Unlawful Trump-Era Policy
Washington, D.C. — Late yesterday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agreed to restore a path to permanent residency for many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries blocked by then-acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli—an illegally appointed Trump official. Because of the agreement, TPS beneficiaries impacted by this 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.
The agreement is the result of a new settlement in CARECEN v. Cuccinelli, a lawsuit filed by Democracy Forward, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Montagut & Sobral, PC, and Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP in August 2020. Seven Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries and the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) sued the Trump administration for unlawfully denying tens of thousands of TPS beneficiaries the opportunity to take steps to adjust their immigration status and become permanent residents. In the lawsuit, the seven current TPS holders shared their stories. Now, each one now has the opportunity to obtain permanent residence.
The December 2019 policy change, disguised as a mere clarification, was one of the Trump administration’s many efforts to eliminate TPS protections for tens of thousands of beneficiaries. The groups’ lawsuit alleged the change violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act; was motivated by the Trump administration’s racial and anti-immigrant bias; and was unlawfully authorized by Ken Cuccinelli, whose appointment was deemed illegal by a federal court in March 2020 in response to a separate lawsuit brought by Democracy Forward, CLINIC, RAICES, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.
“Today’s agreement will allow TPS beneficiaries—many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades and built deep roots in their communities—to once again seek permanent residency and extinguish the threat of deportation if their TPS protections are revoked,” said Democracy Forward Senior Counsel John Lewis. “The Trump administration’s policy illegally sought to destabilize the lives of tens of thousands with TPS protections. We’re proud to have helped restore protections that ensure our neighbors have a path to pursue permanent residency.”
“This victory will change the lives of those individuals impacted,” stated Abel Nuñez, Executive Director of CARECEN. “As an organization, we are proud of our continued efforts to defend our community as they integrate into their new home in the U.S. CARECEN will work with those TPS members that qualify under the settlement and also keep fighting to ensure that all TPS beneficiaries who have been in the U.S. for over 20 years and have complied with everything that has been asked of them are able to apply for legal permanent residence.”
“As an organization grounded in Catholic social teaching, we celebrate today’s settlement that will prevent family separation and provide pathways to citizenship for thousands of TPS beneficiaries,” said Anna Gallagher, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC. “Our faith tradition teaches us that we are to stand for justice and against any barrier to human flourishing. This agreement eliminates the barrier of an unlawful policy created by an illegally-appointed official. We are proud to have stood among those who fought against this policy, and we celebrate alongside our immigrant brothers and sisters whose lives will now be profoundly changed.”
Concepción de Montagut and Germaine Sobral from Montagut & Sobral P.C., who brought forward their client’s cases affected by the policy, said: “When we saw the negative impact the policy change had on the long-awaited permanent residence applications of our clients, we knew we had to fight the policy. We are proud to have been part of a team that has fought for this change that will now allow not only our six named clients, but also thousands of TPS beneficiaries to reopen and dismiss their deportation cases and proceed with their permanent residence applications so they can remain in the US with their families and turn their dreams into reality.”
Learn more about the lawsuit here.
Democracy Forward Foundation (“Democracy Forward”) is a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 that litigates cases involving government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and achieved victories supporting democracy and improving the lives and wellbeing of people and communities. Democracy Forward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
CARECEN’s mission is to foster the comprehensive development of the Latino population in the Washington metropolitan region by providing direct legal services, housing counseling, citizenship education, and community economic development, while promoting grassroots empowerment, civic engagement, and civil rights advocacy.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, advocates for humane and just immigration policy. Its network of nonprofit immigration programs — more than 400 affiliates in 48 states and the District of Columbia — is the largest in the nation. CLINIC provides substantive legal and program management training and resources, as well as advocacy support at state, local and national levels.
Montagut and Sobral P.C. is an Immigration law firm in Falls Church, VA which has been in business since 1986. Their attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience practicing immigration law, and currently the majority of their clients are from Central America.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
Concepcion de Montagut; Germaine Sobral
Montagut and Sobral P.C.