WASHINGTON – A federal judge blocked on Wednesday the suspension of a United States Government immigration program known as Temporary Protection Status.
TPS was created in 1990 with the aim of protecting migrants in the US from countries affected by war or natural disasters. There are more than 300,000 TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.
The decision goes into effect immediately as the termination of the programs which was scheduled for the next few months would have caused irreparable harm to the immigrants and their families if they were forced to leave the US, according to Judge Edward Chen.
The administration of President Donald Trump had ordered the TPS beneficiaries – some 263,000 Salvadorans, 86,000 Hondurans, 58,000 Haitians, 5,300 Nicaraguans and 1,000 Sudanese – to prepare to leave the country or seek alternative legal migration.
Washington had further told the countries receiving their citizens to be prepared for their return and their reintegration.
In the past few years, TPS beneficiaries had their permit renewed for a period of 18 months automatically but the Trump administration decided to reassess the terms which justified the introduction of these measures.
El Salvador was given TPS in 2001 after a series of earthquakes struck the country, while Honduras and Nicaragua were under the program from 1998 following a devastating hurricane that had hit Central America.
Haiti became a TPS beneficiary after the 2010 earthquake that left 300,000 dead and plunged the country into chaos while Sudan came under the immigration program in 2014 after the South Sudan conflict.