Once upon a time, before the now-threatened Arizona Amnesty Atrocity—the McCain-Kolbe-Flake guest worker and temporary worker legislative legerdemain—there came a little non-deportation program for illegal aliens called “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS).
Created by the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS has been allowing more illegal aliens to arrive earlier, stay longer and get quicker employment authorization ever since. The beauty of TPS is that the federal bureaucracy can give it to whole countries all at once with the stroke of a regulatory pen.
The TPS program allows aliens from a designated country to remain in the United States while waiting for some crisis in their homeland to be over. All the illegal aliens and lapsed or soon-to-lapse visa-holders from that country need to do next is claim that they've entered the United States before a certain date, register for the program, and pick up their documents.
The problem, needless to say, is that the crises never really end. TPS deadlines are extended again and again.
Aliens who already have lawful permanent resident status don't need TPS, because their status doesn't expire. And, of course, some valid non-immigrant visa holders might legitimately need TPS if their documents are about to expire. But illegal aliens stand to benefit most from the program. TPS registration acts like magic to stop deportation proceedings for all aliens from designated countries.
Sure sounds like an amnesty, right?
TPS designations now fall within the Department of Homeland Security's pro-alien Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services –BCIS. The domain of former international banker Eduardo Aguirre, Jr., BCIS employs the same folks from the examinations and asylum divisions of the disbanded INS—purveyors of the “Citizenship U.S.A.” debacle.
While the pro-American divisions of the DHS are supposed to detain and deport illegal aliens and criminal alien residents, BCIS is dreaming up ways of letting more illegal aliens stay longer.
And the TPS program is simply another tool. If illegal aliens can't manage to avail themselves of refugee status, asylum, or a green card through an immigrant petition, and they're from one of the lucky countries—or at least claim that they “last habitually resided” there—there's always TPS as a last resort. It's a no-frills way for illegal aliens to get employment authorization.
Aliens from these nine wonderful countries have so far been able to stay under TPS during the following periods:
Deadlines are constantly being extended. Just recently, the TPS expiration for Liberia was pushed back another year as of August 7. Illegal aliens from Somalia just got another year of TPS as of July 21. And on July 24, a bill was introduced in Congress to grant TPS to Colombians.
So it looks like there's no end in sight for the TPS program and no limits on how far it can go.
In the case of seven more countries, the deadline did expire. But that doesn't mean anyone from these countries actually went home. Just because a TPS period is over, it doesn't mean the aliens are going to be systematically deported anytime soon—or that the TPS designation won't rise again.
While the designation is in effect, TPS functions as a get-out-of-jail-free card in the ongoing permanent amnesty that is the Justice Department's delay-ridden Immigration Court system of the Executive Office for Immigration Review— EOIR.
And as with other alien give-away programs with specific registration requirements, there is precious little the federal government can do to dispute a particular alien's claim that he entered the United States illegally before a particular date. The Government Accounting Office already documented rampant uninvestigated immigration fraud in the INS' service division long before the Department of Homeland Security came along.
And as always, the incentives for fraud are greater than ever. With TPS, there's nothing to lose.
Top TPS triumph: Aliens registering from Honduras and Nicaragua hit the TPS jackpot—legal work authorization and non-deportation for six years running! Their January 5, 1999 TPS remains in effect today—until January 5, 2005—all because of a hurricane in 1998.
It's time for aliens benefiting from TPS largesse to go home and make their countries great.
It's also the time to put the T back in TPS—or, better still, abolish the program entirely.
Juan Mann [send him email] is a lawyer and the proprietor of DeportAliens.com.