Lawyers reach out to Las Vegans temporarily protected from deportation

Wed, Nov 29, 2017 (2 a.m.)

It’s been about 17 years since Las Vegas resident Sandra Granados left the guns and danger she remembers from El Salvador for Las Vegas, finding work, raising children and living with an uncertain immigration status.

Granados was one of roughly 100 people who sought information Tuesday night on what immigrants can do as they face the elimination of their temporary protection from deportation. The Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law was among a dozen groups at the community forum. Volunteer attorneys offered free pre-screening to attendees.

A food server at the Wynn whose three daughters were born in Las Vegas and are enrolled in the Clark County School District, Granados said it’s been challenging calming her children’s fears as temporary protected statuses come up for renewal under President Donald Trump’s administration.

“I had to work with them, talk to them every day,” Granados said. “It’s stressful.”

TPS countries and their status

El Salvador through March 9

Syria through March 31

Nepal through June 24

Honduras expires July 5

Yemen through Sept. 3

Somalia through Sept. 17

Sudan ends Nov. 2, 2018

Nicaragua terminates Jan. 5, 2019

South Sudan through May 2, 2019

Haiti terminates July 22, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security can grant temporary protected status for certain countries where conflicts or natural disasters make it unsafe for citizens to return. The government gave El Salvador protected status in 2001, the year it was hit by a massive earthquake. People who are able to enroll in the program can pursue employment authorization.

Designations for El Salvador and Syria run through March 9 and March 31, respectively. It’s unclear whether the department will decide to end those programs, though an announcement is expected Jan. 7, said Tirso Sermeno, El Salvador’s Las Vegas consul general.

About 6,300 Nevada residents are TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, according to the Center for American Progress. At the end of 2016, there were 263,282 El Salvadorans with TPS in the U.S., according to the most recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data available. Sermeno said the uncertainty is troubling many residents and that officials are working to show the American government the value of this immigrant community.

He said that Tuesday night’s event and others like it are opportunities to share information with the community and calm fears.

Immigration attorney Hardeep Sull, who volunteered at Tuesday night’s forum, says her firm, Sull & Associates, is handling about 300 immigration cases. About 20 to 30 percent of the firm’s cases annually are pro bono.

Sull said it’s important to give people knowledge to protect themselves, especially regarding so-called notarios who sell fake immigration assistance illegally.

“We want to make sure that the community is empowered in a time when there is so much hostility,” she said.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced Nov. 6 that Nicaragua, damaged in 1998 by the second-deadliest Atlantic hurricane, would lose its TPS designation by Jan. 5, 2019. The department said in a statement that the temporary conditions caused by the hurricane no longer exist.

Haiti’s designation is ending July 22, 2019, according to a Nov. 20 announcement.

“Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent,” DHS said in a statement. “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.”

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