Thousands of Syrian immigrants may keep their protection from deportation temporarily after the Trump administration announced late Wednesday it will let them renew their permission to live and work in the United States.
The protections were granted under the humanitarian Temporary Protected Status program, which allows immigrants from countries stricken by war or disasters to live and work in the country legally.
The Trump administration has announced it will let Syrians with TPS, as it’s called, extend their protection for another 18 months. In a statement, Homeland Security officials cited the ongoing armed conflict in Syria as a reason for their decision.
It's not clear, however, if those who renew can stay in the U.S. once their 18 months are up in September of next year. Officials said they would review conditions in Syria before then before they decide.
About 6,900 Syrians with TPS status live in the U.S., according to federal officials.
Syrians were first granted TPS in 2012, a year after war broke out in their homeland. Suzanne Meriden with the Syrian American Council, an advocacy group, said there’s good reason why Syrians with TPS should be allowed to stay.
“Syria is at its most dangerous now. It is in worse condition,” said Meriden, who blames Syrian government forces for the ongoing conflict.
Meriden said while she is glad to see an 18-month extension, she is upset that the administration did not say it would let the program, as it applies to Syrians, continue on.
“We are just going to assume there is no redesignation,” Meriden said. “And we are going to ask for clarification.”
Homeland Security did say in its statement that those Syrians who arrived in the U.S. after Aug. 1, 2016 would not be eligible for protected status under the current rules.
The Syrian American Council released a statement saying that “based on the facts on the ground TPS for Syria should be renewed and redesignated. Syrians should not be forced to return to a country where violence and the threat of barrel bombs has become a norm.”
President Trump has canceled Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from several other countries, most recently El Salvador.