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HIAS Statement on Extension of TPS for Somalia

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SILVER SPRING, Md. – On July 19, the Trump Administration extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of Somalis living and working in the United States. TPS is a life-saving program that allows people whose home countries have been impacted by natural disasters or ongoing armed conflict to remain in the U.S.

Somalis with TPS have been in the U.S. since 1991. They own homes and businesses, and have children who are U.S. citizens. This decision will extend TPS for 18 months to Somalis who are currently registered, but does not redesignate Somalia as a country in need of protection, meaning that Somalis who have arrived in the U.S. since September 2012 could face deportation.

Somalia is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. More than 5.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and security in much of the country remains fragile and unsafe. The protracted emergency in Somalia has already led to nearly 900,000 refugees throughout the region -- a number that continues to grow.

In response to the decision, Melanie Nezer, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, said:

“This is part of a larger series of actions the Administration has taken that have had the effect of reducing the number of Somalis that can come to the United States. Somalis are effectively barred from refugee resettlement, and from obtaining most types of visas. Failure to redesignate TPS for the small number of people who have been legally living and working in the U.S. since 2012, at a time when their country is in crisis, signals a complete disregard for the humanity and contributions of Somalis in this country.”

Somalia has been plagued by a nearly two-and-a-half decades-long armed conflict. The government is unable to secure the safety of Somalis, evidenced by frequent attacks on civilians, specifically those returning from outside of the country.

In addition to the conflict, the country has been severely afflicted by environmental challenges that have increased displacement and worsened food insecurity across the country.

HIAS is relieved that those living in the U.S. with TPS will remain protected from the conflict and humanitarian crisis. But, without a redesignation, many Somalis in the U.S. will be forced to return to a country where war and famine have forced millions to flee their homes, or live in fear of arrest and deportation in the U.S.

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Temporary Protected Status