Syrians Win Permission to Stay in the USA, for Now

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced January 31 the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for about 7,000 Syrians.

CLINIC's Jeanne Atkinson called the January 31 decision by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to extend rather than re-designate TPS for Syrians an "arbitrary decision with life-or-death consequences".

The Trump administration extended this status on Wednesday to the Syrians who have been in the US since August 1, 2016.

"Syrians with TPS status will be eligible to re-register for an extension of their status for 18 months, through September 30, 2019", the DHS release said.

"After carefully considering conditions on the ground, I have determined that it is necessary to extend the Temporary Protected Status designation for Syria", Ms. Nielsen said in a statement. Nielsen has emphasized the protections should be temporary, and Trump advocates resettling Syrian refugees closer to home. There are about 2000 Syrians who have arrived in the USA since that date and who will not be protected by the TPS renewal, reports NPR.

The U.S. created Temporary Protected Status in 1990 to provide a safe haven from countries affected by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, war and other disasters, and it now shields several hundred thousand people from 10 countries. The Trump administration has extended their temporary stay for the next 18 months. Most originally came here to study or to visit family. Some groups that favor immigration restrictions had opposed an 18-month extension of the humanitarian benefits for Syrians, saying six months would be more appropriate.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has cut off the special protections for citizens of several countries, including Honduras and El Salvador, after determining that once-perilous conditions no longer preclude citizens from going home. Syrian advocates and human rights activists have denounced the administration's decision to limit TPS for some Syrians because it denies the reality Tillerson describes, they say.

According to him, the status allows recipients to stay and work in the US for a defined period, in the case of some 7,000 Syrians until September 30, 2019.