Sudanese immigrants in US risk losing ‘temporary protected status’

An appeals court ruled that the Trump administration could remove humanitarian protections for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti who had enjoyed “temporary protected status” for decades because of the situation in their home countries.
Tuesday 15/09/2020
Sudanese residents in the US wait for a relative at Washington Dulles International Airport. (AFP)
Sudanese residents in the US wait for a relative at Washington Dulles International Airport. (AFP)

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of thousands of US immigrants risk deportation after an appeals court ruled that the Trump administration could remove humanitarian protections that give them legal status, sparking outcry from immigrants’ advocacy groups and concern among their home countries.

The decision impacts immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan who have been granted “temporary protected status” for decades because of catastrophes in their homelands such as armed conflict and natural disasters. Many are now longtime US residents who have families and children that are US citizens.

Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has sought to halt these and other protections for immigrants, arguing their justifications are no longer sound. Increased restrictions have often targeted immigrants from Muslim and Arab countries, whom Trump has disparaged as posing a danger to national security. In addition to removing temporary protected status from Sudanese nationals, Trump also included Sudan on a 2017 travel ban that was widely derided as prejudiced against Muslims.

Rights groups say Trump’s removal of protected status for longtime immigrants, if cleared, would prove especially destructive, tearing apart families and communities that now have “deep roots” in the nation.

“If the decision stands, these longtime lawful residents who were welcomed to the U.S. because their countries were mired in violence or natural disasters could be sent back,” said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which plans to file an appeal with the 9th Circut and potentially take the case to the Supreme Court. “Because they have several hundred thousand American children — many of whom are school-aged — this decision would force those families to be torn apart.”

Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum, told The Associated Press: “This is devastating news not just for families who are losing their protected status, but also for their communities. TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation.”

The majority of immigrants with protected status (250,000) are from El Salvador, which endured a brutal 12-year civil war leading up to 1992 and continues to suffer from high levels of organised crime. An additional 55,000 immigrants from Haiti risk losing their status, as well as

15,000 from Nicaragua and some 1,000 from Sudan.

If Trump’s move is not shot down by the courts, detractors are holding out hope that his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, will be elected and reverse the decision. Biden has promised “an immediate review” of TPS and said he will pursue legislation for longtime residents to remain in the US and seek citizenship.