Plaintiffs Declare Victory in Legal Battle Against TPS Repeal

Today, TPS holders and their U.S. citizen children officially conclude their six-year legal battle, which effectively prevented the Trump administration from terminating humanitarian protected status for more than 400,000 individuals, the majority of whom have lawfully resided in the United States for over two decades.

The litigants in Ramos v. Mayorkas and its companion case, Bhattarai v. Mayorkas, contested the Trump administration’s attempts in 2017 and 2018 to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

“If successful, the Trump administration would have ended this humanitarian protection for over 98% of all people who held this status at the time of the announced terminations,” emphasized Emi MacLean, counsel for the plaintiffs and senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. “Instead, not a single person lost TPS as a result of the Trump administration’s racist and illegal actions.”

The plaintiffs secured a preliminary injunction in 2018, safeguarding the legal status of all TPS holders over the past five years. An appellate order overturning the injunction was annulled by the en banc Ninth Circuit in 2023.

“Despite the dark and depressing moments at times, we found community by sticking together and fighting as a family, for all TPS holders in this country. Our fight has never been about only TPS – it is about immigration justice for all. ‘We have made the U.S. our home, and we are here to stay,’ said Keshav Bhattarai and Sajjan Pandey, two lead plaintiffs representing Nepal, and members of Adhikaar.

“I was in eighth grade when this started. Now I’m in my second year of college, and dedicating myself to immigrant rights,” said Crista Ramos, lead plaintiff in the litigation and U.S. citizen daughter of a TPS holder. “We were motivated by deep love for our families and anger at clear injustice. I am proud to see what we have accomplished together, and all of the families that have been protected.”

In June 2023, the Biden administration rescinded the Trump administration’s TPS terminations and extended TPS for more than 300,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua. Earlier, the Biden administration redesignated Haiti and Sudan for TPS.

On December 28, 2023, the federal district court dismissed Ramos as moot in light of the Biden administration’s “unequivocal” policy change, which “fully addressed Plaintiffs’ objections by granting TPS status and/or rescinding the TPS terminations at issue.”

“The federal government told the Court that the illegal conduct it perpetrated in 2017 and 2018 ‘will not be reinstated.’ The Court relied on that statement, finding that it will not ‘revert to the previous administration’s contrary policy,’ as the government ‘has squarely rejected that policy,'” said Ahilan Arulanantham, counsel for plaintiffs and faculty co-director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. “If the government goes back on its word, we will hold it accountable.”

TPS holders expressed strong unity and strength from all that they have achieved and a commitment to defend themselves and their community again if a future administration would seek to terminate TPS.

“We have learned so much through this journey and from each other. We will be ready to fight again if needed,” said Hiwaida Elarabi, a plaintiff from Sudan and a leader in African Communities Together.

TPS holders have also made clear that their larger struggle cannot be won through litigation alone. “United we have won an unprecedented victory, and all that we hoped to achieve through the courts,” said Orlando Zepeda, a plaintiff and TPS holder from El Salvador, and an organizer with the National TPS Alliance. “But most of us have lived in the United States for decades; we should have permanent protection. We will not stop until we win that too.”

The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU Foundations of Northern and Southern California, the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law, Unemployed Workers United, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, and the law firm Sidley Austin LLP. The coalition of organizations representing TPS holders includes Adhikaar, African Communities Together, National TPS Alliance, Carecen Los Angeles, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.