People from countries like El Salvador and Haiti who won temporary protected status after fleeing natural disaster and war can be forced to return home, a federal appeals court ruled.
The 2-1 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit effectively strips legal immigration status from some 400,000 people, rendering them deportable if they do not voluntarily leave the country. The decision affects the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries of a program offering what is known as “temporary protected status,” which has permitted them to remain in the United States after being uprooted from their unstable homelands.
The Trump administration has argued that the emergency conditions that existed when people were invited to come to the United States — earthquakes, hurricanes, civil war — had occurred long ago. The program, it said, had inadvertently conferred permanent immigration status for people from places like El Salvador, Haiti and Sudan, most of whom it said no longer needed safe haven.
The long-awaited decision does not immediately end the protections. The Trump administration has agreed to maintain them until at least March 5, 2021, for people from five of the affected countries and until November 2021 for people from El Salvador.