Fact Checking: Temporary Protected Status

On February 12, The Washington Post reported on a rally in the nation’s capital in support of amnesty for recipients of TPS – a status that gives permission to stay temporarily to aliens from countries that have been disrupted by natural disaster or civil unrest. The Post’s story was not apparently run past its fact checker.

The story referred to the TPS beneficiaries as “immigrants,” which they are not.

The fact is: Immigrants are foreigners who have come on an immigrant visa or have been given permanent residence while already in the country. Other foreigners are either nonimmigrants – if they are here legally on a temporary visa – or illegal aliens – if they entered illegally or stayed when they no longer had permission to be here.

The story then added that the “immigrants … came to the United States fleeing war and disaster.”

The fact is: The only foreigners receiving TPS status are those already in the United States at the time of war or disaster. Each TPS designation has a cut-off date that precludes new arrivals coming later from the affected country.

The story quotes one of the rally attendees saying, “I came to this country as an immigrant.”

The fact is: If he came as an immigrant, he would not have needed temporary protection against deportation. He either came as a nonimmigrant with a visa or came illegally.

Even more significant than the misstatement of facts was the omission of the fact that many, if not nearly all, of the TPS beneficiaries were here illegally at the time that they received the benefit of temporary legal status and work permits. Also missing from the article was the context that most of the TPS beneficiaries have been here for more than a decade (nearly two decades for some) and it defies logic that it would not be safe for the protected status to have been ended long ago. Finally, TPS makes little sense for illegal residents because they are unlikely to have any intention of returning to their home country when possible. Ending TPS status simply causes them to revert to illegal status without the right to work or to receive government benefits.

The fact checkers at the Post generally direct their attention to statements by President Trump, but not exclusively. The public would benefit if their energies were spread more evenly and especially to stories written by their colleagues.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    Before the WAPO writes anything on immigration it would be best to read and understand current immigration law.
    At the very least WAPO could start by using the correct terminology eg. immigrant vs nonimmigrant
    Even I understand that any nonimmigrant that overstays is an illegal alien, and they are eligible for deportation, under current immigration law.

  2. avatar

    Lemmings rushing over the cliff. One Democratic presidential candidate after another seems to be adopting the idea that not only do we not build any more walls but we tear down the ones already up. Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand are on the band wagon. Under what scenario is that not open borders. And Gillibrand ran for her New York Senate seat 10 years ago as a conservative. Now she’s the complete opposite. Sound familiar?

    The problem for the party, and it’s self made, is that their average voter is uninformed and will vote for whoever has the best slogans and can promise the most. Our budget deficits are bad enough now and need to be addressed, but what the Democrats are lining up to support will make them far worse. It’s also why these last minute budget “deals” are an abomination. Thousands of pages long with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in unpaid for and no time to read them.

      • avatar

        A lot of people don’t know that Teddy Roosevelt declared a 60 foot federal right-away along the southern border in 1907 and the express reason was to stop cross border smuggling. The president was also long ago given authority by Congress to erect fencing along the border to control drug smuggling. Many say that just because most drugs are caught at points of entry then that means the unsecured border is not a source of smuggling.

        No, it simply means that we don’t catch most of what is getting across at those areas. It’s proven that a lot of drugs are carried by drug mules on foot. Nor would it be unprecedented for a president to send federal troops to enforce the law. Eisenhower at Little Rock and Kennedy at the University of Alabama are two examples.