Joint Press Release: TPS Beneficiaries Push Ahead with Challenge to Ken Cuccinelli’s Unlawful Policy Obstructing Beneficiaries’ Ability to Obtain U.S. Green Cards

WASHINGTON — Seven Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries — who live in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and Miami, Florida — and the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) advanced their lawsuit against the Trump administration for unlawfully denying many TPS beneficiaries the ability to secure a more permanent immigration status in the United States. The plaintiffs in this case are represented by Democracy Forward, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Montagut & Sobral, PC, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

The change in policy was unlawfully authorized by then-purported acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli in a “Policy Alert.” A federal judge first ruled that Cuccinelli was illegally appointed in response to a separate lawsuit brought by Democracy Forward, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), RAICES, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

Protections for many TPS beneficiaries could end as soon as April 2021, heightening the urgency of this litigation. Without TPS protections, TPS beneficiaries who have pre-existing removal orders — including the seven individual plaintiffs in this litigation — will be vulnerable to the threat of deportation.

In this latest filing, the groups push back on the Trump administration’s claims and explain how the policy change unlawfully denies TPS beneficiaries an opportunity to seek permanent residence in the United States.

The policy:

  • Runs counter to the unambiguous text of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Is arbitrary and capricious and was issued without notice and comment in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act
  • Was issued by an unlawfully serving acting official in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and the Appointments Clause of the Constitution
  • Violates the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee because it discriminates on the basis of race, national origin, and nationality, and was motivated by the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant animus

If left in place, USCIS’s unlawful policy would mean that the plaintiffs’ significant and costly efforts to become eligible to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. were all for naught. Read more about their stories in declarations they previously submitted to the court here.

The plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion to dismiss was filed on December 18. Read it here. The court’s order requiring prior notice before the administration alters the plantiffs’ immigration status is available here. The lawsuit was filed on August 26 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Learn more about the suit here, and read the original complaint in full here.


Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

CARECEN’s mission is to foster the comprehensive development of the Latino population in the Washington metropolitan region by providing direct legal services, housing counseling, citizenship education, and community economic development, while promoting grassroots empowerment, civic engagement, and civil rights advocacy.

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, advocates for humane and just immigration policy. Its network of nonprofit immigration programs — almost 400 affiliates in 48 states and the District of Columbia — is the largest in the nation. CLINIC provides substantive legal, trial skills, and program management training and resources, legal challenges to anti-immigrant policies and regulations, advocacy support at state, local and national levels, and remote-based crisis response models to immigration enforcement.

Montagut and Sobral P.C. is an Immigration law firm in Falls Church, VA which has been in business since 1986. Their attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience practicing immigration law, and currently the majority of their clients are from Central America.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. We deliver effective solutions to our clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach.