File photo: Nour Douchi started a Facebook group to organize rallies for Syrian Americans around Southern California. It's been a year since violent crackdowns in Syria, and Los Angeles Syrian groups are joining others in asking the U.S. to grant asylum to the growing number of Syrian refugees.
It’s been a year since violent crackdowns erupted in Syria, resulting in an estimated 10,000 deaths and an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Syrians in Los Angeles, eager to help family and loved ones, are part of a movement asking federal officials to welcome some of those who have been displaced.
Back in the 80s, thousands fleeing the civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras ended up in the U.S. Some were granted asylum; others were given what’s known as TPS, or Temporary Protected Status.
A TPS country is designated by the Department of Homeland Security. People fleeing from a country on that list are allowed to stay in the U.S. until they can return home safely, or apply for a green card or U.S. citizenship.
Reem Salahi, civil rights attorney of Syrian descent based in L.A., said TPS would benefit refugees.
“Many, many Syrians are fleeing Syria right now and some of them who have the ability to come to the United States are actually in very dire situations, because they don’t have money, they don’t have connections of contacts. And many individuals don’t have access to the legal system. So to be granted TPS status, that would at least alleviate many of the hurdles that refugees have," she said.
In the past six months, Syrians have increasingly found their way into major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles. While there are no solid numbers on this trend, immigration attorneys say it is growing.
Last month, Arab and Syrian groups met with federal officials, asking for TPS privileges for Syrians. The request is pending before U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.