Photo by Adriano Contreras, used with permission

By Aida El-Hajjar, age 11

Nearly 400,000 immigrants may be forced to leave the United States because of a September 14 ruling by the federal court of appeals on temporary protected status (TPS) visas. In a 2-1 decision, the court sided with the Trump administration’s stance that some immigrants protected by TPS no longer need a safe haven because their countries of origin are now safe to return to. 

TPS was enacted by President George W. Bush in 1990 to help people find shelter in the United States after they fled their countries due to war, violence or natural disasters. 

The ruling affects immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, Sudan and Nicaragua. TPS holders from these countries are facing deportation to their countries of origin, which some may not have visited for many years, causing families to be torn apart. There are around 200,000 U.S.-born children whose parents are protected by TPS. These deportations will impact not only families but also the U.S. workforce. According to the Boston Globe, 131,000 of these immigrants are essential workers. 

“When I heard that the Trump administration wasn’t going to renew my TPS … I felt scared and worried for my family,” Ericka, a TPS holder and a Culinary Union member for 14 years, said in an Instagram post. “I’m worried that the American dream I fought to have when I came to this country is going to disappear when my TPS expires.” 

In January 2021, when the next administration is sworn in, the fate of TPS holders across the country will be decided. Until then, 400,000 Americans and their families will wait anxiously while they live their lives in limbo.