An injunction and family uncertainty over TPS

For the first time since the Trump administration announced it was terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans effective September 2019, there is a bit of good news.   A federal judge in San Francisco has entered a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the end of TPS. 

The injunction comes in a case titled Ramos v Nielsen brought by the ACLU and other groups against the Trump administration challenging the TPS cancellations for El Salvador and other countries. This lawsuit includes both TPS holders and their US citizen children. The plaintiffs allege that the arbitrary TPS cancellation violates rights of the US citizen children to the integrity of their families and violates constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.

Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California entered the order on October 3 which prevents the Trump administration from terminating TPS protections while the litigation is continuing.   Judge Chen found that the plaintiffs in the case have a likelihood of succeeding on their claims and that TPS holders and their families would be irreparably harmed if the termination were to go forward in the interim.

It is important to note that this decision is not the end of the story.  The decision is only a "preliminary" injunction and could change after a full trial on the merits of the claim. The government will almost certainly appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, with new justice Brett Kavanaugh, could hear the case after that.  There are also other pending court cases challenging TPS which could conceivably reach conflicting results.

The decision was greeted warmly by the Salvadoran government:

We feel happy that the stay of our brothers in the United States under TPS has been prolonged through an injunction.   We will continue working with the government through the Foreign Ministry to guarantee to them permanent migratory stability.  - President Salvador Sanchez Ceren
There is irony here, since the fact that the government of Sanchez Ceren in El Salvador has not been able to provide safety and security to its citizens is a major reason that the plaintiffs in Ramos assert that TPS cannot be terminated. 

A key focus in the case is the impact of the termination of TPS on US citizen children of Salvadorans, Haitians and Hondurans who now face family separation if the parents are forced after 17 years or more to return to their counties of origin.  In his decision granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Chen wrote:
TPS beneficiaries who have lived, worked, and raised families in the United States (many for more than a decade), will be subject to removal. Many have U.S.-born children; those may be faced with the Hobson’s choice of bringing their children with them (and tearing them away from the only country and community they have known) or splitting their families apart. In contrast, the government has failed to establish any real harm were the status quo (which has been in existence for as long as two decades) is maintained during the pendency of this litigation. Indeed, if anything, Plaintiffs and amici have established without dispute that local and national economies will be hurt if hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries are uprooted and removed.
A Washington Post article titled American Girl: A Story of Immigration, Fear and Fortitude, which appeared the day before Judge Chen's decision, gives a very personal look at those terrible dilemmas facing families with US born children and parents about to lose TPS protection.  The article focuses on 14 year old Emily, born in the US to Salvadoran immigrant parents living with the protection of TPS.  Emily's family discusses the plans they are struggling to make:
Emily and her parents sat at their kitchen table talking about the future. Maria explained that if she and Jose were ordered out of the country, they would leave Emily here, in the care of an American family for whom Maria used to nanny. “El Salvador is not a place for her,” said Jose quietly. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. I looked at Emily and caught a couple of tears dripping from her chin onto the red-and-white checkered tablecloth. 
Maria glanced at [7 year old] Ethan in the other room. She seemed determined to take him with them. “He’s too young,” she said. “He’d be too much of a burden” to leave here. It would be too dangerous to send him to school in El Salvador, but Maria believed she could home-school him. “I’ll make sure he learns,” she said and beckoned Ethan over. Suddenly shy, he crept to his mother’s side and nuzzled against her. “I try not to worry him too much,” Maria said, hugging him.
Read the rest of the story of Emily and her family as they face this time of incredible uncertainty here.

A similar excellent article appeared this week on the immigration news site Documented, titled On Long Island, Salvadorans Brace for Impact.   The article explores the impact of the potential termination of TPS on the population of Salvadoran families living on Long island.

The end of TPS is another family separation crisis which Trump administration policies are generating.  The preliminary injunction against TPS termination, like the similar injunctions which are in place preventing the termination of the DACA program, provides temporary respite, but still leave enormous clouds of uncertainty over immigrant families and their children.  Given the likelihood that the US Congress will still be incapable of passing reforms to cure these situations, the future of these families will continue to rest in the twist and turns of legal proceedings in US courts.