Several thousand Long Island Hondurans and Nicaraguans are renewing their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) this month. And more than 10,000 local Salvadorans will begin renewing their TPS in June. One question I hear from time to time is, “Should I renew my TPS when there is a possibility of immigration reform?”
The simple answer is that, yes, you should renew. There are several reasons why.
First, the renewal periods for each of these TPS grants are very short – only 60 days. We will not know until August if immigration reform has passed. That is after both renewal periods are over. If immigration reform fails, then anyone who did not register will be permanently out of the TPS program and will likely lose his or her job. They may also face the possibility of arrest and deportation for being in the United States without authorization.
Second, even if immigration reform is passed, no one will see work authorization for a very long time. If other programs are a guide, it may be six months to a year-and-a-half before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting applications.
When the application period for legalization begins, millions of people will file all at once, swamping the system. Last year, we got a dry run of what can happen when President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. Fewer than half-a-million people applied, but it now takes five months or more for cases to be adjudicated and work permits to be issued. Expect much longer delays when the massive legalization influx begins. In other words, many legalization applicants may not have their work permits until 2015.
Hondurans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadorans who have TPS should be careful not to gamble with their futures by betting on Congress to behave responsibly and pass immigration reform or on the USCIS processing legalization applications efficiently and quickly. The simple message is to renew your TPS status this month if you are Honduran or Nicaraguan and in June or July if you are Salvadoran.