Immigration advocates in Las Vegas slammed an appeals court decision from Monday allowing the Trump administration to end protections for more than 400,000 immigrants in the U.S.
In a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the 2018 injunction that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from terminating the temporary protected status, or TPS, program for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.
Members of the TPS Committee in Nevada spoke Tuesday morning about their disappointment in the decision and their desire for a plan for legal residency at a press conference in front of the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas.
“What do we want? Residency! When do we want it? Now!” a group of about a dozen chanted while holding signs.
Some of those immigrants have been in the U.S. for decades, have grown families and businesses, and paid taxes, Miguel Barahona, a committee member and a TPS holder, said at the conference.
“This country is made of immigrants,” Barahona said. “We’re going to keep fighting for what we deserve. Residency!”
Although the TPS program offered a home and work for people from countries that have had disasters, such as earthquakes and civil wars, it has no path to permanent residency or citizenship, immigration attorney Paloma Guerrero said at the conference.
In a statement Tuesday, the Governor’s Office for New Americans called the decision “devastating to our immigrant community in Nevada.”
“There are over 4,000 TPS holders across the State of Nevada, many of whom have been here for decades — raising their families and contributing to the state,” the statement read. “Recipients of TPS are inextricably linked to our communities and our economy. TPS holders are our friends, our neighbors, and our colleagues. Forcing these Nevadans out of the country, many who are serving as essential frontline workers during this COVID-19 pandemic, not only puts these individuals back in potential danger but also significantly impacts the lives of their families and our local communities.”
A similar but separate lawsuit, Bhattarai v. Nielsen, that affects TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal could follow suit after 9th Circuit’s verdict on Ramos v. Nielsen because it holds the same argument, according to UNLV law professor David Orentlicher.
“So Homeland Security has to see if the country is sufficiently dangerous or unsafe for people to live there that we should give them temporary protected status? When is a war serious enough? Is a drought serious enough?” Orentlicher said in a phone interview. “And you have to leave that to the agency to figure out.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will appeal the ruling.
Contact Jannelle Calderon at email@example.com. Follow @NewsyJan on Twitter.