Congress created temporary protected status (TPS) as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. TPS allows qualifying persons inside the United States to remain and work lawfully until conditions in their home countries improve following civil war, natural disaster or similar extraordinary situations. DHS has the discretion to determine when the circumstances in a particular country merit TPS designation. Nationals of those countries already present in the United States can apply for TPS, along with permission to work lawfully. TPS is usually granted in 6, 12, or 18 month increments, and can be renewed. Haiti received the most recent TPS designation for a natural disaster, following the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation.
While senior officials are reportedly at odds with the President, the Trump administration announced that it will not designate Bahamas as a TPS country following the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, even though an estimated 90 percent of the buildings in the damaged areas were destroyed, and more than 70,000 people are homeless and in need of food and water. The country’s infrastructure was virtually wiped out, making the delivery of aid incredibly complicated and slow. This means that Bahamians visiting the United States during the hurricane will have to depart on or before their current admission dates expire, unless they are eligible for extensions. Most will have to return to the devastation, increasing the number of people who may be in need of food, water, and shelter. This unfortunate decision is consistent with the administration’s efforts to cancel TPS for other countries. A federal court issued an injunction halting the termination of the existing TPS programs for the time being. We will provide an update if this decision is reversed.