Overview of Temporary Protected Status

What is temporary protected status?

Temporary protected status, or TPS, is a temporary status granted to nationals of specific countries. The country must be struggling with ongoing conflict. This conflict can be an armed conflict, a natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. TPS was established by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990. The original purpose was to prevent nationals from getting sent back to home countries where life had become dangerous.

As of this past August, there were approximately 325,000 individuals with TPS living in the United States. Of this number, over 90% came from El Salvador, Honduras, or Haiti. The other 10% came from Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This overview of TPS will focus on the 90% from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti.

Family Involvement

Many TPS individuals came to the U.S. as children and have spent most of their lives in the U.S. On average, TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras have spent 1/3 of their lives here on TPS. Also, 30% of Haitian TPS holders were younger than 15 years old when they arrived in the U.S. Many of these individuals have become active members of their communities.

51% of Salvadorans with TPS have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years. That number is 63% for Hondurans. During this time, these individuals are required to go through regular vetting by the government and background checks every time their status is renewed. Additionally, 61% of Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders with children have at least one U.S.-born child. 32% of Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders own their home in the U.S. 87% of TPS holders from these three countries speak at least some English, and over half speak English well, very well, or speak only English. About 70% of TPS holders from these three countries live in California, Florida, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Maryland.

Participation in the Labor Force

80% of TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti participate in the labor force. 88% of Salvadorans participate, 85% of Hondurans, and 81% of Haitians. For comparison, the labor force participation rate for the native born American in 2016 was only 62.3%. There are more Salvadorans and Hondurans with TPS in the construction industry than in any other industry, and more TPS Haitians in the restaurant and food services industry than in any other. TPS holders are concentrated in the construction, food services, landscaping, childcare, grocery, and hospitality industries. Importantly, 1 in every 9 TPS holders in the labor force are self-employed, about 27,000 total.

TPS beneficiaries contribute to the U.S. economy through income and property taxes, Social Security and Medicare contributions, job creation, and spending. Their contributions to the U.S.'s GDP over the next 10 years total an estimated $164 billion. In the 6 states where these individuals are concentrated, they add between $1.2 and $2.7 billion dollars each year to each state's GDP. About 90% of Salvadoran and Honduran TPS beneficiaries reported in 2016 that they filed income taxes every year for the 3 previous years.

What would happen if TPS were terminated?

If the government does not extend TPS status for these countries, the individuals must return to the immigration status they each held before receiving TPS. This would mean that many would return to undocumented status and may face deportation. Despite all of their contributions to their communities, the labor force, and the national economy, there is currently no way to achieve permanent status for these individuals. Ending TPS designation for these three countries in particular, without a way for those affected to maintain their connections to the U.S. would have tragic consequences for individuals, families, workplaces, communities, and economies.

Categories: Immigration News