WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and in Emergency (SECURE) Act, legislation to allow qualified TPS recipients to apply for legal permanent residency.
“There are TPS recipients across the country, including more than 21,000 Maryland residents, who are hard-working individuals, making valuable contributions to our local communities every day,” said Senator Cardin. “Creating a pathway to permanent residency through the SECURE Act is the right thing to do. It’s better for our national security, for our economy and for the hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients who live and work lawfully in the United States.”
“America has a long tradition of offering refuge to those who face imminent danger in returning to their countries. During that time, many TPS recipients have become part of the fabric of our communities as our small business owners, neighbors, coworkers, and friends — all while many of these countries remain in turmoil. After the legal uncertainty that has clouded the TPS program over the past several years, this bill will offer recipients the peace of mind of knowing that they can remain safely in the U.S. and continue to call this nation their home,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Our bill will protect individuals and families that have lived and worked in the United States for years under temporary protections. Having fled some of the worst circumstances imaginable in their countries of origin, the least we can do is ensure they have peace of mind with permanent protections,” said Senator Feinstein.
TPS is a temporary, legal immigration status granted to foreign citizens who are endangered by conditions in their home country resulting from extraordinary events such as ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or epidemic. TPS status is granted for set periods ranging from six to 18 months, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to extend a country’s status on a recurring basis. Each time a country is recertified, recipients must reapply and pass a thorough background check. Currently, there are approximately 670,000 people with TPS in the United States.
The SECURE Act is needed now more than ever in light of the pending decision in Ramos v. Nielsen in the Ninth Circuit. In that case, beneficiaries of TPS and their U.S.-citizen children challenge the Trump administration’s termination of protections for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, and later for Nepal and Honduras. Though the Biden Administration has since re-designated TPS for Haiti and Sudan, it has not done so for the other four countries. Without executive action, an adverse ruling in this case would result in the potential deportation of thousands of TPS recipients from these four countries who have built lives, started businesses, and raised families in the United States to countries facing ongoing violence and instability.
The SECURE Act will provide long-term stability for these individuals and their communities by giving them the ability to apply for legal permanent residency. Under the bill, all TPS recipients who were qualified under the most recent TPS designation and who have been continuously present in the United States for at least three years would be eligible to apply for legal permanent residency.
Additionally, under the SECURE Act:
- A spouse, domestic partner, child, or unmarried child of a qualifying non-citizen would be eligible to obtain permanent resident status (upon meeting certain requirements).
- Individuals with a pending TPS application will receive work authorization and be eligible for travel authorization.
- Non-citizens who have a pending application or is prima facie eligible for permanent status under the bill and intends to apply are shielded from deportation.
- Information from an applicant’s application may not be shared or used for immigration enforcement purposes, with limited exceptions, such as for the identification of fraudulent claims.
- DHS must report to Congress when terminating a country’s TPS designation with an explanation to justify the termination.
Senators Van Hollen, Cardin, and Feinstein were joined in introducing this legislation by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Bill text can be viewed here.
This legislation is endorsed by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), CASA, United Workers Party, TPS Alliance, and Working Families United.
“LIUNA commends Senators Van Hollen, Cardin, and Feinstein on their continued leadership in working to protect Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients with the re-introduction of the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency (SECURE) Act. Many thousands of union members in the construction industry have Temporary Protected Status. The SECURE Act would allow these valued members of our union to remain in our country. The bill would protect workers from all TPS designated nations, and their immediate family members, who have had a continuous presence in the U.S. The bill will also give them a path to legal permanent resident status as well as eventual naturalization. Thousands of union members have lived and worked in our country for years under TPS, paying taxes while supporting their families. Approximately thirty percent of TPS recipients work in the construction industry. These workers build America every day and are vital to our nation’s economy. LIUNA is proud to endorse the SECURE Act and urges the Senate to bring this legislation to the floor for passage immediately,” said Brent Booker, General President, LIUNA.
“This critical legislation recognizes the urgent need to protect and provide a path to permanent residency to those most in need. The SECURE Act not only upholds our values of compassion and fairness but also acknowledges the invaluable contributions our community has made to society. CASA stands in strong support and looks forward to continuing to work alongside Senator Van Hollen to ensure that those who have sought safety and stability in our country can build a secure future for themselves and their families,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA.
“Despite the political challenges in congress TPS migrant families continue to advocate for a pathway to residency. The National TPS Alliance encourages any legislative vehicle that will guarantee our permanent residency and bring justice to our immigrant community. Today’s reintroduction of the SECURE Act in the Senate serves as a confirmation of our advocacy. We applaud Senator Van Hollen’s allyship in this effort and hope to see other congressional leaders support this legislation,” said Mardoel Hernandez, TPS recipient from Honduras and National TPS Alliance Executive Committee Member.