This bill — the ESPERER Act — would allow qualified immigrants who received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the U.S. prior to January 13, 2011 to become legal permanent residents by applying before January 1, 2021. It would apply to nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras who satisfy the eligibility criteria. Successful applicants could not have ordered, incited, assisted, or participated in the persecution of others. They also could not have been convicted of any federal or state offense punishable by more than one year’s imprisonment, or convicted of at least three separate offenses where the aggregate prison sentence was 90 days or more.
Individuals would be ineligible for permanent resident status if they’re inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act on health-related grounds; criminal- or security-related grounds; they’re a public charge; involved in human trafficking or child abduction; have abused a student visa; are permanently ineligible for citizenship; practice polygamy; or voted illegally.
Further, individuals would be ineligible for permanent resident status if they’re deportable under the Immigration Nationality Act because of human trafficking; participated in marriage fraud; criminal- or security-related grounds; they’re a public charge; or voted illegally.
Individuals who were previously subject to deportation or voluntary departure orders could apply for permanent status without having to file a motion to reopen or vacate the prior order. If their application is granted, the prior order would be cancelled. If the application is denied the prior order would be in effect and enforceable. The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to issue regulations to stay the removal of a person who has filed an application, and would be prevented from ordering an eligible person’s removal unless their application has been denied.
DHS would be allowed to grant work authorizations to applicants, and would be mandated to grant work authorizations when an application is pending for more than 180 days.
Spouses, children, and unmarried sons or daughters of the applicant would also be eligible for permanent resident status if:
They file an application when they are physically present in the U.S.;
Unmarried sons or daughters must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year;
They’re otherwise eligible for immigrant visa and are admissible, with exceptions made for the Immigration and Nationality Act’s requirements that admissible immigrants not be a public charge, certify that they’re working, and provide other documentations.
Applicants would be entitled to the same administrative review provided to those applying for legal status under the Immigration and Nationality Act or individuals going through deportation proceedings. DHS decisions on an application wouldn’t be subject to judicial review.
The bill’s full title is the Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees with Established Residency Act of 2017.