Less than two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). As I wrote last week when Cameroon was designated, Mayorkas has a proclivity for using TPS to offer broad classes of illegal aliens amnesty-lite. TPS represents amnesty-lite because it offers illegal aliens work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver’s licenses, and, despite the name, is de facto permanent.
On March 4, I analyzed the TPS Ukraine announcement, summarizing it as follows: “The timing, duration, and justification of the TPS designation also reveal that this was a politically motivated decision by Mayorkas to grant amnesty-lite to illegal aliens in the absence of Congress passing ‘amnesty-premium’”.
Now that the Federal Register notice about TPS for Ukraine has posted, it appears that even more political shenanigans are in play. Mayorkas’s March 3 press release established a March 1, 2022, cutoff date for when Ukrainians had to be in the United States to qualify for TPS. Specifically, the DHS press release said:
Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS. [Emphasis added.]
Compare that to the Federal Register notice that was quietly posted this morning.
This designation allows eligible Ukrainian nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine) who have continuously resided in the United States since April 11, 2022, and who have been continuously physically present in the United States since [INSERT DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER] to apply for TPS. [Emphasis added.]
Without explanation, justification, or even acknowledgment of the original announcement, Mayorkas moved up the cutoff date by one month and 10 days. This is blatantly illegal. If this tactic sounds familiar, it’s because Mayorkas did the same thing for Haiti, unilaterally advancing the eligibility date by two months. I criticized this unlawful action at the time, writing “There is no indication that DHS made even a passing attempt at reviewing country conditions since Mayorkas’s May decision, and the delay in publishing the Federal Register notice appears orchestrated to further expand the Haitian amnesty-lite population.”
In my piece I wrote, “Lastly, expect the covered population to grow beyond the announced 75,000 who are physically present in the United States as of March 1.” I figured the most likely way the population would increase would be when Mayorkas illegally "redesignates" Ukraine for TPS ahead of the 18-month initial expiration date, as he has done with every country up for renewal (or termination) consideration. Emboldened by the TPS Haiti move, Mayorkas seems to have made the political calculation that he can similarly cover Ukrainian illegal aliens who found their way into the country after Mayorkas’s March 3 decision.
Lastly, something else seems afoot with the TPS Ukraine notice. Back in March, DHS estimated the TPS population at roughly 75,000 Ukrainians. Curiously, the Federal Register notice pegs it at 59,600. The notice does not include any explanation of how it reached the 59,600 estimate or why this figure is reduced from the original estimate (or that there even was an original estimate).
The self-proclaimed “most transparent administration” has a lot of unresolved questions to answer.