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GOP Lawmakers Want Crackdown on Temporary Visa Abuse

A group of Republican lawmakers proposed legislation Wednesday to rein in a program that purportedly grants temporary residency to foreigners whose homelands are engulfed in a crisis.

Critics long have contended that the Temporary Protected Status program, in practice, makes a mockery of the word “temporary.” The Department of Homeland Security routinely renews TPS designations. Some date to the 1990s. Officials from President Donald Trump’s administration, after flirting with the idea [1] of canceling TPS for 50,000 Haitians who fled an earthquake in 2010, renewed it for another six months on Monday.

“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.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is the lead sponsor of the Temporary Protected Status Reform Act of 2017, which has three co-sponsors, including House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas). It would give Congress the responsibility of determining whether to grant protection to citizens from various countries.

“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,” Brooks said in a prepared statement on Wednesday. “This legislation provides the needed reform for what has become a long-running amnesty program.”

Currently, some 300,000 foreigners from 10 countries are allowed to remain and work in the United States under TPS. That includes foreigners who entered the country both legally and illegally. People who have been convicted of serious crimes in the U.S., are barred from asylum, or have been declared inadmissible are ineligible. Anyone with TPS designation loses that status if he or she leaves the country and tries to re-enter.

Three major organizations that support stricter controls on immigration endorsed the bill.

'Temporary' Protected Status
CountryDateParticipants
El Salvador3/9/01195K
Haiti7/23/1150K
Honduras1/5/9957K
Nepal6/24/159K
Nicaragua1/5/992.55K
Somalia9/18/12270
South Sudan5/3/1675-200
Sudan5/5/13450
Syria10/1/165.8K
Yemen3/4/171K
Source: Congressional Research Service

“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 President Dan Stein said in a prepared statement. “Most often, unfortunately, it’s used by aliens residing in the United States as a foot in the door to permanent residence.”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said in a statement that putting Congress in control of the program would be an improvement over the status quo.

"Our lawmakers still might choose poorly, but at least they'd be on the record and could be pressured by voters," he stated. "It's long past time to fix the TPS statute so that 'temporary' no longer means permanent."

Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations at NumbersUSA, indicated that the record is clear since Congress created the program in 1990.

"Past administrations have been abusing this temporary, humanitarian program for 27 years, using it as a de facto amnesty program," she said in a statement.