Mo Brooks introduces legislation to reform TPS immigration program

Mo Brooks opinion

Congressman Mo Brooks this week introduced a bill that would tighten-up an oft “abused” immigration program that lends itself to de facto amnesty.

Established in 1990 as a temporary immigration status — granted to eligible nationals of a country as a result of a natural disaster, civil violence, or other extraordinary conditions making the country “unable, temporarily, to adequately handle the return of its nationals” — the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is essentially a nascent green-card program of sorts providing recipients a work permit, Social Security number, driver’s license, and access to certain welfare benefits.

While it’s not an immediate path to citizenship, under current law “Temporary” Protected Status is de facto permanent and is often renewed time and again, permanently extending the TPS status. Meaning hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens from countries across the globe, who would otherwise be deported, spend years, even decades, enjoying the protections and benefits of the program, even well-past the time the extraordinary conditions which qualified them for it had dissipated due to this never-ending “temporary” measure.

Which is why Brooks introduced H.R. 2604: the Temporary Protected Status Reform Act of 2017. The TPS Reform Act would shift authority from the Executive and empower Congress to designate a nation’s participation in the TPS program. Further, it would set strict, clear time limitations for TPS duration, aiming to make the law, which was designed to be inherently temporary, temporary once more.

“The United States provides Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to more than 300,000 foreign residents.  As the name implies, the TPS statute purports to provide temporary relief to foreign residents for a period of 6 to 18 months. However, the Executive repeatedly renews protected status, effectively providing a free and permanent pass into America – including all the benefits that come with it,” said Brooks. “My bill, the TPS Reform Act would ensure that ‘temporary’ means temporary by establishing clear time limitations and creating statutory tests that must be met to grant the TPS designation. This legislation provides the needed reform for what has become a long-running amnesty program.”

Among the supporters of the bill is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a non-profit that advocates for immigration reform based out of Washington, DC, who claim TPS is “misnamed.”

“By now, we should have learned from experience that TPS is misnamed—what we offer as ‘temporary’ protection is rarely, if ever, temporary,” Federation for American Immigration Reform Executive Director, Dan Stein noted. “Most often, unfortunately, it’s used by aliens residing in the United States as a foot in the door to permanent residence. They are certainly happy to receive TPS because it apparently never expires.  The true test of TPS as a policy tool is if it ever is, truly temporary. Our laws should not reward illegal immigrants to the United States regardless of the political or natural upheavals in their homelands.  Otherwise, experience shows that we will encourage further illegal immigration.”

The Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, Mark Krikorian, agreed.

“It’s long past time to fix the TPS statute so that ‘temporary’ no longer means permanent,” said Krikorian.

“Past administrations have been abusing this temporary, humanitarian program for 27 years, using it as a de facto amnesty program,” Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations at NumbersUSA added. “This bill would restore critical oversight by Congress.”

Original cosponsors of the TPS Reform Act include: Texas-Republicans Louie Gohmert and Michael McCaul, and Iowa-Republican Steve King. NumbersUSA and FAIR both endorsed the bill.