In the aftermath of the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake, many countries came forward to help the nation. One of them was the United States – they opened up a Temporary Protected Status program to Nepalese already in the United States, but staying illegally. Temporary Protected Status (TPS), enacted in 1990, applies to non-resident foreigners wishing to avoid returning to their homeland because of civil strife or effects of a natural disaster of “extraordinary and temporary conditions” – this time the extraordinary situation being the great earthquake. The status would provide them a temporary legal status and allowed them to work legally in the United States – for many, it offered relief. An estimated 9,000 Nepalis filed for a TPS, and were granted one.
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States. Like every nation, as administrations change, key policies change. President Trump had made many promises prior to being elected – a key promise being “bringing an end to illegal immigration”. His fight continues, as he demands Congress pass the funds to build a border wall along the southern border of the U.S. His immigration stance also contained the fate of the 9,000 Nepali TPS holders plus hundreds of thousands of TPS holders from other nations.
On April 26, 2018, Trump’s administration ended the TPS program for the 9,000 Nepalis. They were given a year to pack up and leave as the administration believed Nepal had reeled back from the damages of the earthquake and could take back their residents. However, packing up and leaving is not always easy – many of these families have spent years ‘bettering’ their lives in the United States, many of them have families, many of them have been ‘adapted’ to the lifestyle of the West – the cancellation of the TPS affects lives.
Therefore, on February 11, 2019, six adults with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and two U.S. citizen children of TPS holders filed a class action lawsuit seeking to stop the unlawful termination of TPS for over 100,000 TPS holders from Nepal and Honduras and prevent the separation of tens of thousands of U.S. citizen children from their TPS-holder parents.
From the six adults, three are of Nepali origin, and three Hondurans. The U.S citizen children who filed the lawsuit were born in the U.S., and one of them is of Nepali origin again. The lawsuit sues Trump administration alleging the decision to end the temporary protected status for these immigrants was motivated by racism, and is unconstitutional because it aims to separate family members.
According to plaintiff Keshav Raj Bhattarai, a member of Adhikaar and a Nepali TPS holder shares, “I am proud to be a part of this lawsuit, for all the other Nepali TPS holders like me. With TPS I have been able to build a new life here with my family and I have a found a stable job. When I see so many people’s lives at risk in losing TPS, I am troubled to see that this country would harm its hardworking workers and people. I wish to continue working to support this country, and also continue supporting the rebuilding of Nepal, which is still recovering from the earthquake.”
Adhikaar is also organising a TPS Families March and have shared the following route plan. If you are in the U.S. and believe TPS families should be supported, be there at Lafayette Square.