On March 12, 2019 a federal district court in California temporarily stayed the termination of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Nepal and Honduras in the Bhattarai v. Nielsen case. This Court order is linked to the preliminary injunction in the Ramos v. Nielsen case, in which the Department of Homeland Security was ordered to continue TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, and Nicaragua. The Bhattarai class action lawsuit was brought by six TPS holders and two U.S. citizen children of TPS recipients in February 2019 and challenges the legality of the Department of Homeland Security’s decisions to terminate TPS for Honduras and Nepal.
What does this mean? TPS for Nepal was set to expire on June 24, 2019. TPS for Honduras was set to expire on January 5, 2020. TPS now temporarily remains in place for all of the six countries that received termination decisions by the Trump administration: Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, and Honduras. Automatic extensions of TPS protections and work authorization will be issued in short-term increments as long as the Ramos injunction remains in place.
What happens next for Nepali and Honduran TPS holders? Based on the plan outlined in the Bhattari order, DHS is expected to issue a Federal Register Notice, or FRN, to automatically extend TPS and work authorization for current Nepali and Honduran TPS holders 45 days prior to the respective TPS designations’ expiration. For Nepal, the FRN is expected on or before May 10, 2019. For Honduras, the FRN is expected on or before November 21, 2019. Like the auto extensions associated with the Ramos v. Nielsen case, Nepali and Honduran TPS holders who successfully re-registered during the last registration period would not be required to take action to receive the automatic extension.
Note that the nine-month, automatic extensions will only continue while the Ramos preliminary injunction is in place. The injunction is currently under appeal by DHS in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and arguments will be scheduled in the coming months. There are several different scenarios of what will happen to these short-term TPS protections, depending upon how the appeal proceeds in the Circuit Court.
If the preliminary injunction is reversed on appeal and the two cases remain linked, TPS will remain in effect for Nepal and Honduras for a minimum of a) 120 days following the issuance of any mandate to the district court, or b) the Secretary’s previously-announced effective date for the termination date for each individual country, whichever is later.
Right now, the Ramos v. Nielsen case and Bhattarai v. Nielsen case are linked and the temporary relief provided will continue in the same way for all six countries. If, for some reason, the Court should find some reason to unlink the cases, TPS would remain in effect for Nepal and Honduras for at least 180 days following an order vacating the stay.
What should Nepali and Honduran TPS holders do now?
- Know where to get legal help and trusted sources of information about TPS.
- It is strongly recommended that TPS holders with Orders of Supervision who are required to check-in at local ICE offices seek qualified legal assistance prior to their next check-in.
- Confirm that your TPS status is current. Seek qualified legal assistance if you are unsure.
- If your TPS is not current, seek qualified legal assistance to discuss possible late re-registration.
- Get screened for other forms of immigration relief.
- Be on the lookout for the Federal Register Notices in May and November 2019.
What should legal service providers do now?
- Immigration legal services providers are encouraged to contact Nepali and Honduran TPS holders to advise them of this update and ensure they successfully re-registered for TPS during the last re-registration period.
- Legal practitioners should conduct outreach regarding the availability of late re-registration.
- For clients with Orders of Supervision, we recommend counseling and preparation prior to the client’s next check-in with their ERO officer and to determine if representation or accompaniment during check-in is advisable.
- Outreach should be done to combat fraud and the unauthorized practice of immigration law related to this litigation. Multilingual resources can be found here.
Reminder about ICE check-ins:
From time to time, CLINIC receives reports of unprofessional behavior by ERO officers during check-ins. We urge representatives to report such behavior to supervisors at the local ICE office at the time of or close in time to the occurrence. Additionally, CR/CL complaints may be filed, if the situation warrants.
In order to file a complaint about unprofessional ICE officer behavior:
- Contact the local ICE office either through your field office liaison: https://www.ice.gov/contact/ero#fieldOffice or through the ERO contact form: https://www.ice.gov/webform/ero-contact-form and document the incident/all communications.
- Contact one of the following:
If you file a complaint with CRCL, the OIG automatically sees the complaint and will sometimes take up the complaint themselves when they deem it appropriate.
- For CLINIC affiliates: Both CRCL and OIG can take a very long time to resolve complaints. If, after following these steps, your client is still in a difficult situation that needs to be rectified sooner rather than later, contact CLINIC advocacy to strategize additional steps.