Ecuadorian Illegals Denied Temporary Protected Status

By Kausha Luna on November 4, 2016

On Thursday, the government of Ecuador announced that the United States denied a request for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for its illegal aliens there.

The Ecuadorian government made a request for TPS in May, after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador's central coast in April.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines TPS as a "temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a country designated for TPS under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), or to eligible persons without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country." Countries are designated for TPS by the Secretary of Homeland Security based on "conditions that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of nationals adequately." Such conditions include,

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)

  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic

  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

In practice, TPS serves as an amnesty which grants illegal aliens a work permit, Social Security number, driver's licenses, and access to certain welfare benefits. (It does not, however, offer an immediate path to citizenship.) It also is de facto permanent, since it is almost certain to be renewed repeatedly; certain Liberians have been in this "temporary" status since 1991.

The Ecuadorian government statement explicitly criticizes the denial of a de facto amnesty for its illegal aliens residing in the United States: "The Government of Ecuador laments that due to this refusal by the Government of the United States approximately 200,000 Ecuadorians in an irregular situation will not benefit from a temporary protection which would have eased their living conditions." As the press release explains, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson responded to the letter sent by Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long. In his response, Secretary Johnson explained that due to the great work carried out by the government of Ecuador to face the consequences of the earthquake, it could not be established that the Ecuadorian government lacks the capacity to handle the return of nationals adequately. (In fact, as my colleague Mark Krikorian wrote in April, scheduled flights from the United States were even then arriving normally at the international airports in the nation's two largest cities.)

To conclude the announcement, the Ecuadorian government notes that it will continue to fight for just and humanitarian immigration reforms, which defend Ecuadorians abroad.