SILVER SPRING, Maryland — 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 this 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 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 eligible men and women. 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." CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...