House Democrats are expected to introduce a new Dream Act March 12, with provisions for people whose Temporary Protected Status is about to be revoked, including 9,000 Nepali Americans.
About 800,000 undocumented youth currently receive relief from deportation via an executive order by President Barack Obama. The Trump Administration revoked the program, known as DACA, in 2017, but local courts have kept the initiative going temporarily, allowing for renewals, but no new applications. More than 7,000 Indian American youth currently hold DACA status.
TPS for Nepali Americans will end June 24, leaving those with protected status in a dilemma: to leave the U.S. and return to an earthquake-ravaged country or to remain in the U.S., and become undocumented.
The new bill, known as The Dream and Promise Act of 2019, will be introduced in the House by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already assigned a bill number, HR 6, according to the Roll Call news site.
Nepalis first received temporary protected status in the U.S. in 2015, after a 7.8 earthquake decimated large portions of the country, killing an estimated 9,000 people and leaving thousands homeless. A bill was introduced in the House in May 2015: the “Nepal Temporary Protected Status Act of 2015,” which granted protected status to applicants if they had been continuously and lawfully present in the U.S. since April 25, 2015.
“The people of Nepal have suffered a calamitous tragedy, and I think providing TPS is necessary to help them attain a sense of stability in the United States while their country recovers," said Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, when the bill was introduced. TPS also allowed Nepali Americans to get work authorization, along with relief from deportation.
But three years after the earthquake, on April 26, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was ending TPS for residents from Nepal. “The decision to terminate TPS for Nepal was made after a review of the environmental disaster-related conditions upon which the country’s original designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist as required by statute,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a press statement.
“Based on careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the disruption of living conditions in Nepal from the April 2015 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that served as the basis for its TPS designation have decreased to a degree that they should no longer be regarded as substantial, and Nepal can now adequately manage the return of its nationals. Thus, as required under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”
“Since the 2015 earthquake, conditions in Nepal have notably improved. Additionally, since the last review of the country’s conditions in October 2016, Nepal has made substantial progress in post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction,” stated Nielsen.
In October 2018, plaintiffs won a lawsuit in the Northern District Court of California which prevented DHS from revoking TPS for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador. The decision has been challenged.
At a press briefing for reporters Feb. 28, organized by San Francisco-based Ethnic Media Services, immigrant rights advocates hailed the new Dream Act with its protections for TPS holders. “The White House has rolled out dozens of anti-immigrant proposals, even as the vast majority of the American public supports protections for Dreamers and TPS holders,” said Kerri Talbot, director of federal advocacy at Immigration Hub.
Talbot noted that — through litigation — most DACA recipients will be protected through President Donald Trump’s first term. Unfortunately, many children who are aging in to DACA will not be able to avail of the protections, as no new applications are being accepted.
Allison Davenport, staff attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, noted at the press briefing: “This has been a roller coaster ride for DACA recipients.”
The administration has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in as to whether DACA in constitutional, said Davenport, adding that the court has not yet announced whether it will hear the Administration’s case. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it will take it up in the Fall of 2019, and issue its decision in 2020, predicted Davenport.