refugees leaving HungaryTemporary Protected Status (TPS), the provision that temporarily shields non-resident aliens from deportation and furnishes them work permits, was designed to help foreigners who might face danger if they returned home because of unsettled conditions in their homeland. Unfortunately, it has morphed into a form of rolling amnesty because it is regularly renewed each time it is set to expire. The rationale for the extensions becomes increasingly nebulous and unjustified as time goes by.

But, one characteristic of TPS has been constant; it has applied only to foreign nationals that were physically in the U.S. before a given event such as a natural disaster or coup. That meant that it could not be used by continuing arrivals from that same country. It could not, in theory, act as a magnet for new illegal immigration.

An announcement by the Department of Homeland Security on August 1 has shattered that pattern completely. First it renewed the TPS designation for Syrians that was first adopted in March 2012 and has been repeatedly extended until it was due to expire in September 2016. Those beneficiaries have been spared from having to return home by a further extension until March 2018. Then, it specified a new period of eligibility to gain TPS protection by Syrians who arrived in the country any time before August 1, 2016. That covers all those Syrians who came into the country between 2012 and the present, regardless of their current immigration status.

The danger of this unprecedented reopening of TPS is that it will signal that once TPS is proclaimed – as it currently exists for Central American countries – there will be no hindrance to continuing to provide TPS benefits to newly arriving illegal aliens. TPS, in essence, becomes a carrot.