Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) introduced the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency (SECURE) Act, S. 2144, on November 16, 2017. The bill would allow temporary protected status (TPS) holders apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to obtain a green card if they meet certain criteria. TPS is granted by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to certain foreign-born individuals who cannot safely return to their home countries because of ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances. Currently, over 300,000 foreign nationals living in the United States possess TPS status. For more information about specific countries designated for TPS, see our fact sheet here.
What would the SECURE Act do?
- The SECURE Act would allow nationals of El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen to apply for LPR status if they:
- Have or had been granted TPS, or were eligible for TPS at the time the last designation was made;
- Have been physically present in the U.S. for three continuous years;
- Are physically present when applying; and
- Meet criminal, national security, and other admissibility and deportability requirements.
- One or more absences of 180 days or less do not count against the three year physical presence requirement.
- Physical presence requirements may be waived in cases of extreme hardship.
- Applicants are provided deportation relief while their application is pending or if they appear to be eligible and indicate intent to file an application.
- Applicants are granted work authorization after the application has been filed.
How many TPS holders would be eligible to apply for LPR status under the SECURE Act?
- As of August 2017, TPS re-registrations numbered approximately 325,000. This represents the highest possible number of individuals who could be eligible under the SECURE Act.
TPS Holders Are Valuable Contributors to the United States:
- TPS holders participate in our economy. TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti contribute a combined $4.5 billion in pre-tax wages or salary income annually to U.S. gross domestic product and $6.9 billion to Social Security and Medicare over a decade.
- TPS holders have high rates of labor force participation. 88.5 percent of TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras are working. Male TPS holders work in the following sectors or occupations: construction and painting (23 percent), driving/deliveries (13.7 percent), cleaning buildings or houses (7.3 percent), gardening (5.4 percent), cooking (3.9 percent), or store clerk (2.5) percent. Female TPS holders work in these sectors or occupations: cleaning buildings or houses (27.9 percent), childcare (6.6 percent), cooking (5.2 percent), clothing manufacturing (4 percent) or store clerk (3.8 percent).
- TPS holders have established lives throughout the U.S. 30 percent of households with a Haitian, Honduran, or Salvadoran TPS holder have mortgage. The six states with the largest populations of TPS holders from these three countries are California (55,000), Texas (45,000), Florida (45,000), New York (26,000), Virginia (24,000), and Maryland (23,000).
- TPS holders come from a diverse set of places. In addition to the nearly 300,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras, current TPS holders also come from Nepal (8,950), Nicaragua (2,550), Somalia (250), South Sudan (70), Sudan (1,040), Syria (5,800), and Yemen (1,000).