The Trump administration said Wednesday that it will allow immigrants from six countries to extend their legal US residency under a temporary status for nine months while courts consider its effort to end the programme.
President Donald Trump has long sought to terminate the programme, which allows immigrants from countries devastated by war or natural disaster to legally live in the US.
President-elect Joe Biden has promised “an immediate review” of it once he is in office and has said he will pursue legislation for long-time residents to remain in the US and seek citizenship.
The Department of Homeland Security announced the extension in a notice in the Federal Register. The extension applies to more than 300,000 people from countries including El Salvador and Haiti who are in the United States on what’s formally known as Temporary Protected Status.
The programme, in place since the 1990s, has been repeatedly extended for some countries.
DHS said the programme is being extended until a court finalises an order allowing the administration to end the programme for four countries that are part of a legal challenge. The extension also applies to Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal and Sudan.
In September, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction that blocked the government from ending TPS for people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan.
DHS said, however, that the appellate court has not issued its directive to the district court to make that ruling effective so the injunction remains in place.
The immigrants’ status is extended through October 4, 2021, from the current expiration date of January 4, 2021.
More than 400,000 people from 10 countries have the protected status, including some 250,000 from El Salvador, according to the Congressional Research Service. El Salvador first got TPS in 2001 after earthquakes displaced much of the population. Many TPS holders now have spouses and children who are US citizens.
Honduras has about 80,000 TPS beneficiaries, followed by Haiti with 55,000, Nepal with nearly 15,000, Nicaragua with about 4,500 and Sudan with fewer than 1,000.