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'It's Everything For Me': What's Next For Immigrants With Temporary Protected Status

Anthony Cave
Erika Murillo, who's from Honduras and on Temporary Protected Status, doesn't know what will happen beyond January 2020, when her TPS status expires.

Erika Murillo wakes up at 3 a.m. to get to her job — taking orders from hospitals and restaurants on everything from hospital gowns to napkins — by 4 a.m. 

She's home by 12:45 p.m., just enough time to take a quick nap before her daughter Sabrina, 9, and son, Dorian, 11, come home from school. 

"Right here, it's everything for me, this is what I have," Murillo said on a weekday afternoon from her dining room table in Grand Prairie. 

She's one of more than 50,000 Hondurans nationwide on Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. The program, established by Congress in the 1990s, provides temporary immigration status to people from countries involved in armed conflict or environmental disasters. 

Murillo moved to the U.S. in 1996 as a teenager fleeing domestic violence. She then received TPS after Hurricane Mitch hit Central America in 1998. 

But for her, and thousands of others on TPS, the future is uncertain.

Over the last year, President Trump has moved to end TPS protections for six countries that make up 98 percent of the TPS population. 

Credit Anthony Cave / KERA News
If Murillo's Temporary Protected Status (TPS) isn't resolved, she would have to take her and her kids back to Honduras.

A federal judge in California recently issued an injunction, stopping Trump's plans to end TPS for four countries: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan. 

The next hearing in the California case is scheduled for Friday. 

While that injunction is specific to those countries, another federal court case in Massachusetts involving TPS against Trump's administration includes Murillo's home country, Honduras. 

"We're going to push forward and keep litigating for Honduras," Oren Nimni, an attorney on the case against the federal government, said. 

For each country on TPS, there is an expiration date when an immigrant must return to their country of origin. Murillo's is in January 2020. 

She doesn't have a plan B as a single mother. 

"It's going to be devastating for my kids, especially for my kids," she said. "They are from here; it's going to be hard for me to take my kids to another country that they don't know."

Meanwhile, the TPS lawsuit involving Honduras, which affects Murillo directly, is on an expedited schedule, so a ruling should be issued soon. 


Anthony Cave reports gun culture as part of a new national reporting collaborative called Guns & America.