Immigration News

Some Central Americans catch a temporary break; and lawsuit filed against LAPD on behalf of organizers of May 1 rally in Los Angeles

The Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will extend by 18 months the amount of time it will allow hundreds of thousands of Central Americans living in the U.S. to continue residing and working here legally. On May 2, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the government will "extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for eligible nationals of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador," according to a press release. The announcement impacts an estimated 78,000 Hondurans, 4,000 Nicaraguans, and 230,000 El Salvadorans. "The extension is part of the Administration's ongoing assistance to Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador in recovering from natural disasters that have affected Central America," reads the release, which quotes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Emilio Gonzalez as saying that though the countries "have made significant progress in their recovery and rebuilding efforts, each country continues to face social and economic challenges in their efforts to restore their nations to normalcy."

As part of the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress established TPS for people living in the U.S. "who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions," says the Web site of USCIS, an arm of the DHS. The current TPS period ends July 5 for Hondurans and Nicaraguans and Sept. 9 for El Salvadorans. "Filing periods" for the TPS extensions haven't started yet. "Details on where, when and how to file under each designation will soon be published in the Federal Register," the release says. Additional info will also be available at or by calling USCIS' National Customer Service Center at 800/375-5283; for local assistance, see the Political Asylum Project of Austin Web site ( or call PAPA at 478-0546.

In other immigration news, on May 9, attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a class-action lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department on behalf of "community groups who organized a May Day immigrants rights rally at MacArthur Park in the city's heavily Latino immigrant community," according to a National Lawyers Guild press release, which says the event "was disrupted by the Los Angeles Police Department when riot-gear clad officers swept through the park without warning and ordered everyone leave the park."

The Los Angeles immigrant-rights rally was one of dozens planned in cities nationwide, including Austin, for the second year in a row. According to the Associated Press, the clash at MacArthur Park started "when police tried to disperse demonstrators who had moved off the sidewalk onto the street. Authorities said several of the few thousand people still at the rally threw rocks and bottles at officers, who fired rubber bullets and used batons to push the crowd back onto the sidewalk." Police Chief William J. Bratton acknowledged "that some of the police tactics used to clear immigration protesters from a park were inappropriate," the AP reports. According to the National Lawyers Guild, "The suit seeks changes in how the [LAPD] responds to demonstrations, as well as damages for" rally participants harmed by police and chased out of the park. "This lawsuit is the only way to afford justice to the victims of this outrageous assault on Latinos calling for comprehensive immigration reform," said Annabelle Gonzalves, MALDEF Los Angeles regional counsel, in a press release.

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