Sending Office: Honorable Jimmy Gomez
Sent By:
Diana.Rios@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Letter to IG Requesting Oversight Regarding TPS Termination

DEADLINE TODAY

List of Cosigners (72): Elijah E. Cummings, Debbie Dingell, Alan Lowenthal, Salud Carbajal,Dan Kildee, Jimmy Panetta, Frank Pallone Jr, Anna G. Eshoo, Pramila Jayapal, James P. McGovern, Ro Khanna, Julia Brownley, Joe
Crowley, J. Luis Correa, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Ruben Gallego, Grace Meng, Zoe Lofgren, Seth Moulton, Darren Soto, Kathleen M. Rice, Raúl M. Grijalva, Marc A. Veasey, Grace F. Napolitano, Adriano Espaillat, Norma J. Torres, Kathy Castor,
Yvette D. Clarke, Jerrold Nadler, Peter A. DeFazio, André Carson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Bobby L. Rush, Gregory W. Meeks, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr., Karen Bass, David N. Cicilline, Gwen Moore, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Adam Smith, Nydia M. Velázquez, Peter
Welch, Doris O. Matsui, Linda T. Sánchez, Alcee L. Hastings, José E. Serrano, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Suzan DelBene, Frederica S. Wilson, Mike Quigley, Dina Titus, Gerald E. Connolly, David E. Price, Joaquin Castro, Juan Vargas, Nita M. Lowey, Stephanie L. Murphy,
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Albio Sires, Marcia L. Fudge, John Yarmuth, Adam B. Schiff, Alma S. Adams Ph.D., Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jamie Raskin, Mark Pocan, Eleanor H. Norton, Anthony Brown, Diana DeGette, and Colleen Hanabusa

Dear Colleague,

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has callously terminated the temporary protected status (TPS) for over 315,000 people. In doing so, I firmly believe that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) engaged in questionable, and potentially
unlawful, conduct in its decision to abruptly terminate TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras. I invite you to join me in a letter to the Inspector General of DHS asking for an immediate investigation into the various irregularities
and potentially unlawful decisions stemming from the administration’s decision to terminate TPS.

For over 20 years, TPS designations for these countries were renewed regularly because our government had determined that these countries could not ensure the safe return of its nationals. Despite appeals from these countries’ governments that they could
not safely receive their TPS population, the Trump administration engaged in highly questionable conduct to justify its termination of TPS.

Multiple media reports cite that DHS, in its decision to terminate TPS, relied on inappropriate criteria, including political and racial considerations outside the scope of the TPS statute under the INA. Most recently, in
Ramos v. Nielsen, a federal district court determined that the Secretary employed inappropriate decision criteria—including seeking information regarding the criminal history of TPS recipients, bowing to political pressure from the White House, and
disregarding recommendations from long-time career employees.

I urge you to raise your voice in support of TPS recipients and stand up for this vulnerable population. Please contact Diana L. Rios (diana.rios@mail.house.gov) or Andrew Noh (andrew.noh@mail.house.gov)
in my office in my office to sign on or if you have any questions.

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jimmy Gomez

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

### 

December 3, 2018

 

 

 

John V. Kelly

Acting Inspector General

Office of Inspector General/MAIL STOP 0305

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane SW

Washington, DC 20528-0305

 

Dear Acting Inspector General Kelly:

 

We write to request an immediate investigation into the various regulatory irregularities and potentially unlawful decisions stemming from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, Nicaragua,
Nepal, Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras.  Under TPS, the Secretary of DHS issues employment authorization and protection from deportation for foreign nationals who cannot be safely returned to their home countries.[1]
We believe that DHS engaged in questionable, and potentially unlawful, conduct[2] in the following areas with its decision to terminate TPS protections for over 315,000 people.[3]

Inappropriate Decision Criteria

A May 2018 letter[4] to the Government Accountability Office from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Menendez, evidence released in litigation related to TPS, FOIA requests, and media reporting
have revealed a pattern of DHS’ politically-motivated decision-making process on TPS, falling outside of the bounds of the law. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee letter states that in the decisions to terminate TPS for Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras,
DHS deliberately ignored the advice of State Department counsel and experts who urged extension in order to protect U.S. national interests, including stability in the Northern Triangle, and to protect human lives, including the U.S. citizen children of TPS
holders.

In addition to the Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador decisions, advocates and litigators have also unearthed improper decision making in the Nicaragua and Sudan TPS terminations. In a USCIS email, staff were instructed to find “positive gems”[5]
to justify sending people back to war torn countries.

Regarding the recommendations to terminate TPS for the Sudan, a Department of Defense official stated that assessments were neither “factually accurate” nor “credible. In reviewing recommendations for the Sudan, soon-to-be-confirmed USCIS Director Cissna
stated,[6] “The memo reads like one person who strongly supports extending TPS for Sudan wrote everything up to the recommendation section, and then someone who opposes extension snuck up behind the first guy,
clubbed him over the head, pushed his senseless body out of the way, and finished the memo.”

Most recently, in Ramos v. Nielsen, a federal district court determined that the Secretary employed inappropriate decision criteria—including seeking information regarding the criminal history of TPS recipients, bowing to political pressure from the
White House, and disregarding recommendations from long-time career employees.[7]

Failure to Re-Designate Syria, Somalia, and Yemen

The DHS Secretary extended TPS for Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen on the basis that it was too dangerous to return foreign nationals to these countries—but did not re-designate these countries for TPS. In the case of Syria and Yemen, the administration’s
failure to re-designate was a break in the status quo of previous re-designations. Due to the failure to re-designate, thousands of foreign nationals who arrived after the original designation date were ineligible to apply for TPS, even though conditions in
their home countries still warranted TPS.

Unreasonable Delays in Adjudication

Nationals from Haiti, El Salvador, and Syria experienced historic delays in adjudication of their re-registration applications for TPS, with delays affecting upwards of 20,000 Salvadorans; 4,500 Haitians; and 335 Syrians—all of whom applied in a timely manner
and paid nearly $500 in fees. To date, USCIS has failed to provide any explanation for these delays, which represent a departure from the agency’s prior ability to timely adjudicate TPS re-registration applications. These delays not only bred confusion but
led to the termination of TPS holders by employers.

Reversals in Long Standing Policies

In response to the delays in adjudication, USCIS engaged in an untested and arbitrary process to extend employment authorization—the mailing of physical notices to affected individuals, instead of the historic agency process of utilizing Federal Register
Notices (FRNs). As legal experts have noted, the physical notices not only represent an inefficient process that wastes taxpayer dollars but may be insufficient for the purposes of employment verification and violate the Administrative Procedures Act.[8]

Publication Delays

Under the TPS statute, DHS must review current country conditions in countries whose nationals have been granted TPS 60 days prior to the expiration of such status.[9] The statute also requires that the outcome
of such review, including the decision to continue and/or redesignate or terminate such designation, with timely publication in the FR.[10] Historically, both Republican and Democratic administrations have interpreted
the timely notice requirement to mean publication in the FR at the time of the decision. In contrast, this administration has failed to timely publish FRNs for nearly all its decisions—with eight of twelve country condition decisions published a month or more
after the required 60-day deadline for country condition review. Such delays are unacceptable and draws serious questions over the Administration’s ability to provide equal opportunity notice to all immigrants under the TPS program. Furthermore, these delays
are arguably inconsistent with previous practices—and demonstrates a stark contrast to the spirit of the law’s requirement of “timely basis” for publication in the Register.

Publication Errors

The Haiti FRN, published nearly two months after the decision date, contained a serious error affecting employment authorization for an estimated 14,000 people. Once alerted, USCIS issued a supplemental memo on its webpage, but it is still unclear whether
this supplemental memo is sufficient for employment verification purposes.[11] As of November 26, 2018, USCIS has not published a supplemental notice in the Federal Register to correct this
error.

Misinforming the Public

USCIS issued erroneous and incorrect information to the public regarding key TPS-related deadlines. In early February, USCIS, through its Twitter account, announced an incorrect deadline for TPS for Honduras and Nicaragua. Furthermore, on February 2, 2018,
USCIS posted incorrect information that re-registration for El Salvador was not yet available, even though the 60-day period had already opened.

Given the inconsistencies and unclear methodologies employed by DHS regarding these terminations, we request that you undertake the following and publish your findings:

  1. Investigate the above allegations of mismanagement, unlawful conduct, and violations of existing policy, regulation, or law;
  2. Recommend appropriate disciplinary action for consideration by the DHS Secretary and USCIS Director for individuals involved in the above;
  3. Recommend comprehensive policy, guidance, and training for consideration by the DHS Secretary and USCIS Director to prohibit the unlawful conduct from reoccurring in the future.

We appreciate your attention to these critical concerns and look forward to your prompt response.

 

Sincerely,

 

JIMMY GOMEZ

Member of Congress

 


[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1254a (West 2018).

[2] The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) catalogued these issues in a memorandum issued to USCIS. Memorandum from Jill Marie Bussey, Director of Advocacy, Catholic Legal
Immigration Network, Inc. to Matthew King, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of International Engagement, Office of Policy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Irregularities and Procedural Errors in TPS Implementation(Aug 6, 2018), available at

https://cliniclegal.org/resources/memorandum-irregularities-and-procedural-errors-tps-implementation
.

[3] Jill H. Wilson, Cong. Research Serv., RS 20844, Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues 5, (Oct. 10, 2018)
available at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RS20844.pdf.

[4]Menendez calls for independent investigation of State Department decision to terminate TPS for Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti – ignoring warnings and jeopardizing national security, United States Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations,
https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/5-4-18%20Menendez%20letter%20to%20GAO%20on%20TPS.pdf

[5] Bobby Allyn, DHS Asks For ‘Positive Gems’ About War-Torn Countries To Justify Returning Immigrants, NPR, Aug. 25, 2018,

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/25/641652912/dhs-asks-for-positive-gems-about-war-torn-countries-to-justify-returning-immigra
.

[7] Daniel Victor,
Judge Blocks Trump Administration From Ending Some Immigrant Protections, N.Y. Times, Oct. 4, 2018,

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/us/immigration-temporary-protected-status.html
.

[8] Letter from Jayesh Rathod, Professor of Law & Director, Immigrant Justice Clinic, American University Washington College of Law, et al. to L. Francis Cissna, Director, U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services (Nov 29, 2018), available at
https://goo.gl/hqXYSc
.

[9] INA 244 (b)(3)(A)

[10] Id.

[11] Re-Registration Period Now Open for Haitians with Temporary Protected Status, USCIS,

www.uscis.gov/news/re-registration-period-now-open-haitians-temporary-protected-status

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Foreign Affairs, Immigration

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