What is life like for someone with Temporary Protected Status?

By Erin Suh

TPS stands for Temporary Protected Status, where “the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.” This can be due to war, environmental disaster, or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions.” (USCIS) TPS protects those covered from being removed from the US or detained by DHS, as well as offering employment authorization documents and travel authorization.

This episode of Code Switch is about Salvadoran immigration activist and TPS holder César Magaña Linares. He talks about his experiences and the impact TPS and its precarious status has had on his life, as well as sharing the obstacles he has faced in his activism. His story provides a glimpse of not only Salvadoran immigration and TPS but also the developing presence of young activists fighting for their own lives.

TPS is especially relevant in 2021 because the recent Supreme Court decision for Sanchez v. Mayorkas ruled that anyone who entered the US unlawfully is not eligible to apply for permanent resident status, and many Salvadoran immigrants, who are only offered TPS until this fall, may be deported.

Reflection questions:

  1. What does it mean to live in a perpetual state of ambiguity?
  2. How might TPS affect someone’s life? Would you dive into activism as César did?
  3. How does the 2021 decision reflect the way the US views immigrants? Is there a distinction between undocumented and documented immigrants?