11 August, 2022

There is no grace period extension of work permits TPS, US lawyers say

Some employers do not take as valid official documents where the extension of work permits for tepesianos confirmed. Beneficiaries complain that carry their documents expired affects them in their jobs and travel.

By Carmen Rodriguez

The announcement of the extension of work permits for TPS beneficiaries caused hope and joy. But nevertheless, the status of the Temporary Protected Status program, not entirely encouraging. The grace period granted by the United States government, can change with the resolution of the California Court, once, the judges render their verdict.

The extension of work permits for the thousands of immigrants protected by TPS, including Salvadorans, announced last week, It is a procedure established by the protocol of the American laws, by mandate (injunction) to the process that is fought in the Court of the Ninth Circuit of California, where a lawsuit is developed against the government of Donald Trump for the cancellation of the program.

If the Court issues a negative decision, in the Ramos-Nielsen case before 4 of January of 2021, the grace period for Tepesians will no longer be one year and will automatically become six months. That is to say, that if the Court confirms the elimination of TPS, Tepesianos will only have six months to seek an alternative to their situation or to voluntarily leave the country.

"The protocol followed in the Ramos case, is the reason why the permits are extended for one more year; but, the decision of the three judges who heard the case in August is still awaited. This may be a long year. But, if it is negative, that year can be reduced. In the federal notice, this timeline can change to six months. It is still early to talk about that but it is a possibility ", said attorney Esther Portillo, Coordinator of the Campaign for TPS.

But nevertheless, the process against cancellation of TPS, can continue in development for more than a year. The attorneys and organizations supporting the lawsuit, engaged by Crista Ramos, a young Salvadoran who wants to protect her mother from deportation due to the cancellation of the program, They said that if the Court issues a negative decision, they will take the case to the US Supreme Court, this can further extend the litigation.

"Most likely, is that this process continues for more than a year. We will continue to the Supreme Court and there the process can continue for two more years. Only if the court's decision is negative would the time be six months ", emphasized attorney Portillo.

Thus, the year of extra grace, that the Trump administration gave to Salvadorans, It will depend on the date the Court issues its verdict. And according to immigration lawyers, This can also be limited or changed if the decision of the judges supports the Executive Order with which the TPS was canceled..

“There is no grace period”

In El Salvador, the announcement of the extension of work permits was presented as a great achievement. But nevertheless, in United States, the news although it represents a respite, it is also a concern. Cecy Martínez from the TPS National Alliance, group that for the past two years has been lobbying US politicians in favor of the program, says that now is when the Tepesians must continue in the fight for their cause.

"Government (US) was forced to give the extension, by the court process. We are glad that we have a break to continue in the fight, but this is also a call for all Tepesianos to unite now more than ever. The Tepesians are the ones who have done the great job to get here, if the lawsuit had not been filed, we would not have this time to continue fighting ", said Cecy Martínez from the TPS National Alliance.

Meanwhile, the immigration lawyer, Roberto Sarmientos, said, what the Trump administration did with the announcement of the extension of work permits, was adjust the time, as required by law, to the development of the process in court and not, give Tepesians a grace period.

"The program has been definitively eliminated with the order of President Trump. There is no grace period after 4 of January of 2021. If tomorrow the judge says that TPS ends, We clarify that the program must definitely be terminated. That is to say, that the grace period that the administration is giving covers the time of the extension of the 4 of January of 2021, practically what was done was to adjust the established deadlines ", Sarmientos said.

The same Department of Homeland Security (DHS, Department of Homeland Security) confirms that the extension given by the US Government, it is according to the processes of its laws and also, confirms that the measure is specifically an extension of work permits for TPS beneficiaries from six countries, including El Salvador and not an extension of the program.

"The Department of Homeland Security, announced today a notice from the Federal Register that extends the validity of documentation for TPS beneficiaries in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, Sudan and Haiti. The notice automatically extends the validity of the employment authorization documents ", read on the official DHS site.

And continues: "DHS is extending the TPS documentation in compliance with the preliminary requirements of the United States District Court., for the Northern District of California… and the District Court for the Eastern District of New York ”.

Jobs and travel affected

Not everything is rosy for Tepesianos. Although it is an official announcement and also, that was already published in the Federal Register, from the 9 last September that expired the last term of the TPS, many beneficiaries have problems with their employers and will now have problems traveling to and from the United States.

The card that accredits them as immigrants authorized to work by the US Government, has expired since 9 of September. And according to the announcement of the extension, work permit cards, will not be renewed physically. That is to say, that TPS beneficiaries carry documents that have expiration dates already expired.

Carlos Pineda is one of the Salvadorans affected. He applied for a new job and was selected. But nevertheless, the new employer asks you to submit documents with a valid date so they can continue the hiring process.

"This is a job with an airline in the United States. It is an important company and it is an important job. I can lose the chance of my life, Because they (the employer) They ask me to present my permit with a valid date and they do not accept the documents issued by DHS as a document that proves that I am authorized to work in the country ", Pineda said.

According to the lawyer for the TPS Campaign, this problem began to occur after 9 last September and the main reason is that employers do not read all the documentation related to the latest extensions of the Tepesian permits and this time it will not be the exception.

"The notification is the only thing the government is granting as evidence of the extension of work permits.. The Federal notice has 13 pages and says they won't give them a new card. further, says the document replaces expired dates and gives the cards as valid. But employers are not reading the documents as they should be ”, confirms the lawyer.

Permit document extensions are automatic, according to the official document and also, TPS recipients do not need to pay, as they did every year, before this latest announcement, nor fill out other documents. But like Carlos, the affected Salvadoran, there are others who are already facing this situation.

And that's not all. Tepesians will also face problems traveling outside the United States, before and after 4 of January of 2021, some lawyers warn.

"The real situation is that, in the layout (official document) it is also read that an I94 is granted, that allows your situation to grant travel permits, will also be restricted until 4 of January of 2021; plus, all people who want to adjust their status and have the key requirements to do so, you have to request an advance parole and leave and return before the 4 of January of 2021 to the country ", said the lawyer Sarmientos.