Last week, Attorney Mooradian spoke before the City of Worcester's Human Rights Commission on the topics of TPS and DACA. These two programs, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, are both undergoing major changes under the Trump Administration.
While every individual case may be different, and while alternative immigration protections may be available for some, the impacts of recent policy changes remain uncertain. In the instance of TPS, the Administration has announced that it will terminate TPS designation for El Salvador and Haiti. These changes have a huge impact on communities in Worcester. Attorney Mooradian explained that while the impact may not be felt immediately (as the programs enter a wind-down period), beneficiaries should make plans now to see if they may qualify for other types of relief, such as family-based benefits.
In addition, Attorney Mooradian highlighted the court challenges and the possible legislative fixes on the horizon for both programs. Recent federal lawsuits have changed the trajectory of the potential policy changes. In the instance of DACA, a federal injunction requires that USCIS (the immigration agency) continue processing DACA renewals. This change is imperfect, however, becuase those who may otherwise be eligible for the program are no longer able to submit initial applications. In addition, there has been a cancellation of advanced parole for DACA beneficiaries, meaning that those who may already have DACA cannot travel outside the United States and re-enter with a lawful entry on their record.
Other lawsuits that have recently been filed with regard to TPS remain uncertain as well. Immigration advocates argue that new TPS policies demonstrate animus against those from certain countries, and that such policy based on animus per ethnicity is not lawful. The advocates have cited Donald Trump's own language when speaking about these nations generally and the people of these nations. While immigration advocates may succeed in obtaining an injunction, it remains unclear what the ultimate destiny of both of these programs will be following appeals to higher courts, or whether Congress mays step in to provide safeguards for these beneficiaries.
Attorney Mooradian mentioned that while DACA beneficiaries (Dreamers) and TPS beneficiaries are both sympathetic groups due to their general lack of criminal history and long residence in the United States, we must be sure not to exclude other, vulnerable populations. Attorney Mooradian mentioned that Special Immigrant Juveniles, or kids who entered the United States following abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one or both parents, are an often less-publicized but equally vulnerable group of immigrants. Among Attorney Mooradian's recommendations to the Human Rights Commission were an emergency fund for legal fees and filing fees, public clinics to disseminate reliable information to constituents, and workshops around mental health issues led by members of certain affinity groups and religious leaders who are culturally competent to lead their constituents in the path of mental health care and immigration relief as neeed.