NINTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S TERMINATION OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR CERTAIN COUNTRIES; MORE LEGAL CHALLENGES AHEAD

We previously reported in September 2019 on a case called Ramos v. Wolf, which sought to pause the Trump Administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for immigrants from Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti.   Unfortunately, on September 14, 2020, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit effectively terminated TPS for immigrants from those four countries, and the humanitarian protections that accompany a TPS designation. 

The 9th Circuit decision ends TPS protections for approximately 300,000 immigrants, some of whom have lived in the United States for decades. The decision impacts not only the 300,000 immigrants themselves, but also their families, including approximately 250,000 children born in the United States. 

In the majority opinion, written by Circuit Judge Callahan, the Court based its decision on the following factors: (1) judicial review of the Department of Homeland Security’s TPS termination is barred by federal statute; and (2) plaintiffs failed to show a likelihood of success, or even serious questions, on the merits of their Equal Protection Clause claim alleging racial animus existed in the decision to terminate TPS for these non-white, non-European countries (i.e. Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti). 

Although the court decision effectively ended TPS for immigrants from these countries, the termination is not immediate.  Those from Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti could be deported as early as March 2021.  However, for El Salvadorian citizens, deportation is delayed until at least 365 days after the conclusion of any TPS-related lawsuits, which is part of an agreement reached in October 2019 between the United States and El Salvador. 

The 9th Circuit decision in Ramos v. Wolf does not impact the existing auto-extension of workers’ Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  The auto-extension for EADs is still set to expire on January 4, 2021 for workers from Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti. 

The plaintiffs in Ramos v. Wolf plan to appeal the three-panel decision to the entire 9th Circuit bench.  Therefore, although TPS terminations for Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti are impending, there are still legal challenges ahead to stop the Trump Administration’s termination of TPS status for immigrants from these countries.  However, individuals should prepare for a potential loss of their status, including by investigating whether they may be eligible for any other type of immigration relief.  We will keep you apprised of further legal developments.

For additional information on this ruling and its impacts, contact your labor or immigration counsel.

By: Christina Adams | September 18, 2020

Legal Developments