Archive for September, 2017

The Lowdown on Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Part I of a series on TPS

In mid-September President Trump’s Administration announced that they are considering ending TPS, and deporting all individuals living in the United States currently protected by TPS. The purpose of this series is to inform the public on this issue.

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Temporary Protected Status was enacted by Congress under the Immigration Act of 1990, giving citizens from designated foreign countries temporary immigration status. Countries that are experiencing conditions which temporarily prohibit the safe return of citizens, or if the foreign country cannot adequately handle the return of its nationals abroad may be granted TPS. Foreign citizens who are granted TPS are given a work visa and a stay of protection in the United States.

Under what conditions is a country granted TPS?

  • Continuing armed conflict (for example, civil war)
  • Occurrence of a natural disaster or health epidemic
  • Other extraordinary, temporary conditions jeopardizing safety of foreign citizens

How is TPS decided?

The Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for deciding which countries are to be given TPS. Before finalizing their decision the Secretary must confer with other government agencies, usually the Department of State, the National Security Council, and the Department of Justice. TPS can be designated for a period of 6, 8, or 12 months on an individual country basis. Sixty days prior to the TPS expiration date, the Secretary must decide whether or not to renew it based on the foreign country’s current conditions.

Who can apply?

Citizens of a TPS designated country must apply to be protected under TPS. In order to qualify, citizens (or stateless persons) must prove that they habitually live in the country with TPS designation. Furthermore, the applicant must be continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the TPS designation. Finally, the individual must fill out employment authorization documents, even if they do not plan on working in the United States.

Who is barred from TPS eligibility?

  • Persons convicted of a felony, or two misdemeanors in the United States
  • Individuals convicted of a crime in their home country
  • If you are found inadmissible due to public health or security concerns
  • Individuals who fail to meet initial or late registration or re-registration periods

Important notes

  • TPS does not lead to citizenship or permanent residency in the United States.
  • People granted TPS will safely remain in the United States until the crisis in their home country is resolved — this means they cannot be deported.
  • Nationals from TPS-designated countries do not automatically receive TPS — must apply and pay applicable fees. 
  • TPS recipients can apply for and obtain travel documents for short trips abroad without jeopardizing their status.

This information is compiled in a convenient fact sheet available for download.

Up next:

Which countries are currently receiving TPS and why they are receiving it — coming out October 6th

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Action and Prayer for a More Inclusive Citizenship

On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution, a document that became the key founding text of the United States of America. The “Blessings of Liberty” described in the preamble, however, were not truly intended for all people in that newborn nation.

It must not be forgotten that the Constitution defined slaves – regardless of the land of their birth – as three-fifths persons for representation purposes and gave them no voting rights. Just a few years later, the Naturalization Act of 1790 specified that only “a free white person” who had resided in the United States of America for two years and any offspring over the age of 21 could become eligible for citizenship. It is a long story of how other populations fought for their public recognition as full citizens with voting rights.

This federal observation was first proclaimed in 1940, when Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to proclaim “I Am An American Day” on the third Sunday of May each year to recognize those who had attained citizenship. This observance was rebranded in 1952 as Constitution Day and moved to September 17, along with an instruction to political units at all levels to supply instruction to citizens. The same date was rebranded in 2004 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, adding requirements that every federal agency supply employees with educational and training materials on the Constitution and requiring schools that receive federal funds to also provide programming related to the Constitution.

Today, just as throughout the history of this nation, many people struggle for recognition. It seems clear that the notion of citizenship can be used as a tool to restrict rights and exclude people from equal treatment.

As you reflect on what it means to be a citizen today, consider joining with others to read our Prayer for an Inclusive Citizenship or take one or more of the suggested Actions Toward a More Inclusive Citizenship on page 2 of the same document. Both documents are also available in Spanish.

If you can, try to schedule an action or prayer service for Sunday, September 17 or any other day in the following week. We are happy to help and would like to hear about all your solidarity actions. Please let us know if you have any questions or just want to share your own efforts with us by emailing us at

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Unjust Armour: Restrictions Lifted to Transfer Military Equipment to Local Police

On Monday, Trump issued an executive order undoing restrictions placed on the transfer of surplus military equipment to police departments.

The restrictions had been put in place by President Obama in 2015 following criticism of police tactics in response to protests in Ferguson. Obama said at the time, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force.”

Concern about the growing alienation between communities and police drove Obama’s decision, but many of Trump’s policy choices seem designed to disintegrate the increasingly tenuous relationships between these two segments of society. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the lifting of restrictions he said, “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety.” It is hard to escape the implication that police accountability is the “superficial concern” that must be cast aside in order for law and order to be enforced.

The 1033 Program that permits the transfer of surplus military equipment to police forces was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, building on a 1990 program that had restricted use to “agencies in counter-drug activities.” The 1033 Program is managed by the Defense Logistics Agency whose records are not publicly available. A GAO study this year found problems with oversight, including a transfer of $1.2 million of military equipment to investigators pretending to be a police department.

Over the last 10 years, as the war in Iraq wound down, the availability of military surplus led to a dramatic expansion of transfers of equipment completely out of proportion to law enforcement needs. Newsweek reported in 2014:

– Police in Watertown, Connecticut, (population 22,514) recently acquired a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle (sticker price: $733,000), designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, for $2,800. There has never been a landmine reported in Watertown, Connecticut.

– Police in small towns in Michigan and Indiana have used the 1033 Program to acquire “MRAP armored troop carriers, night-vision rifle scopes, camouflage fatigues, Humvees and dozens of M16 automatic rifles,” the South Bend Tribune reported.

– And police in Bloomington, Georgia, (population: 2,713) acquired four grenade launchers through the program, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Attorney General Sessions announced the decision to a group of police officers, saying, “The executive order…send[s] a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become the new normal.” With crime rates at an all-time low, it difficult to know what “new normal” of lawlessness is being addressed here. Certainly we should question the need for police departments to deploy MRAP’s and rocket launchers to combat property crimes and drug addiction.

Trump’s decision to lift restrictions on the transfer of military equipment to police, along with his pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, allowing police to expand their use of property seizures and his war on migrants, all point to an effort to remove all accountability for violations of civil liberties by law enforcement. Janai Nelson of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund called the move, “exceptionally dangerous and irresponsible,” and noted “[i]nviting the use of military weaponry against our domestic population is nothing short of recasting the public as an enemy.”

Trump is inventing a war at home, and picking sides. It is political posturing of the worst kind and can only deepen the rift growing in civil society.

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  • Quixote Center
    7307 Baltimore Ave.
    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
  • Office: 301-699-0042

Direction to office:

For driving: From Baltimore Ave (Route 1) towards University of Maryland, turn right onto Hartwick Rd. Turn immediate right in the office complex.

Look for building 7307. We are located on the 2nd floor.

For public transportation: We are located near the College Park metro station (green line)