Over 260,000 people at risk of deportation after Biden administration drops the ball

Washington DC - Settlement talks between the Biden administration and the plaintiffs in Ramos v. Mayorkas have collapsed, leaving over 260,000 people at risk of deportation.

Settlement talks have fallen through between the Biden administration and the plaintiffs in Ramos v. Mayorkas, putting over 260,000 people at risk of deportation.
Settlement talks have fallen through between the Biden administration and the plaintiffs in Ramos v. Mayorkas, putting over 260,000 people at risk of deportation.  © SAUL LOEB / AFP

After 16 months of negotiations, talks have fallen through for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and their children who have US citizenship, putting hundreds of thousands of migrants at risk of deportation if President Joe Biden doesn't act swiftly, per a press release from the ACLU.

"By failing to redesignate TPS to protect hundreds of thousands of Central Americans and Nepalis, President Biden is doing the opposite of what he promised to do for migrant families," said Erasmo Ramos, Honduran TPS holder and leader in the National TPS Alliance. "Instead, he is endorsing Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, stripping immigrants of protection, and denying our rights."

Through the Ramos v. Mayorkas litigation, TPS holders won temporary relief in October 2018 thanks to a federal judge's ruling that the terminations made by former President Donald Trump were racist and illegal. Trump had formerly revoked protections for individuals from Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and later for Honduras and Nepal.

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However, in September 2020, a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court judge's ruling, but that reversal has not yet been finalized due to the plaintiffs' pending request for a rehearing.

The Biden administration later restored protections for Haiti and Sudan, but not the other four countries. In September, Biden redesignated TPS status for other countries, but failed to make TPS extensions for Central American countries and Nepal.

All eyes are on the Biden administration

Activists and citizens with TPS status protest to demand protection.
Activists and citizens with TPS status protest to demand protection.  © OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

Now that negotiations have collapsed, TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Nepal could lose their protections by the end of this year if Biden fails to act.

"When President Biden arrived at the White House, I was hopeful that he would change the policies that left TPS holders vulnerable. That has not happened," Elsy Flores de Ayala, a plaintiff in the Ramos litigation who has had TPS for over 20 years and is a leader in the National TPS Alliance, said in a press release.

"The administration’s failure to reach an agreement to resolve our case is heartbreaking for us all. But we will not give up the fight to keep our families safe and together."

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Emi MacLean, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, demanded action from the Biden administration. "President Biden must act immediately to undo Trump’s racist TPS terminations and guarantee protection for TPS holders. TPS holders and their families should not be in limbo for one day longer."

Ahilan Arulanantham, the co-director of the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy which represents the plaintiffs, said, "We have asked the en banc Ninth Circuit to rule that those terminations were unlawful. This is what the law clearly requires."

Cover photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP

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