CLINIC and partners sue Trump administration to stop illegal attack on permanent residency for TPS holders with U.S. citizen spouses and children

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Representing the Central American Resource Center and seven people with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, CLINIC, Democracy Forward, Montagut & Sobral PC and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP sued the Trump administration to block a policy issued by an unauthorized federal executive, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli.

The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 26, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to stop the Trump administration from denying access to lawful permanent residency to people with TPS who legally qualify for green cards. Cuccinelli’s action, couched as a mere “update” to the agency’s policy manual, eliminates TPS holders' ability to adjust status, with profound and devastating impacts on their lives.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

“This major change affects the futures of TPS holders who have lived in the United States for years,” said Anna Gallagher, CLINIC executive director. “TPS was created by Congress thirty years ago to stabilize the lives of people who fled war, conflict and natural disasters. CLINIC will continue to advocate for the hundreds of thousands of people with TPS, and challenge the administration in court when it breaks the law.”

The USCIS policy is unlawful in part because it was issued by Cuccinelli, whose appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. In March, a federal judge sided with CLINIC and partners in another case, ruling that he lacked authority to perform such functions. On Aug. 13, the government withdrew its appeal in that case and the next day, the Government Accountability Office announced that the appointment of both Cuccinelli and Acting Secretary of Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf were deemed invalid.

Michelle Mendez, director of CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations Program, added: “USCIS broke the law to avoid public scrutiny, circumventing notice and comment requirements in the Administrative Procedure Act. The agency issued this policy in late December 2019, a time when many people would be away from work and spending time with family. They wanted to push this major change forward as surreptitiously as possible. People with TPS have contributed much to the United States and do not deserve this treatment from the country they call home. This policy issued by Cuccinelli, an unauthorized executive, must be found invalid too.”

In addition to litigating to protect the rights of people with TPS in the United States, CLINIC advocates for the extension, redesignation and initial designation of TPS for nationals of countries experiencing conflict and instability, in line with Catholic Social Teaching and values.