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‘This Welcome News Will Provide Great Relief’: Advocates Celebrate Extension and Redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for Ethiopia

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The Biden administration has announced the extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ethiopia for an additional 18 months, citing “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ethiopia that prevent individuals from safely returning.” Under the extension and redesignation, this humanitarian relief will also be expanded to an estimated 12,800 additional Ethiopian nationals who are already in the U.S.

In a statement, African Communities Together (ACT), Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), TPS-DED AAC, and Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP) called Friday’s extension and redesignation a victory for Ethiopian nationals that “have fought hard for this win.”

“We applaud the Biden administration for its decision to provide an 18-month extension and redesignation of TPS for Ethiopia,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC President. “This welcome news will provide great relief to thousands of Ethiopian nationals who deserve protection as Ethiopia is beset by multiple conflicts and humanitarian crises.”

The administration said that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas determined an extension and expansion of TPS was warranted “because conditions that support Ethiopia’s designation are ongoing,” including armed conflict, human rights abuses, and environmental conditions that “have put millions of lives at risk.” The advocacy organizations said, “Ethiopia has been in crisis since the end of 2020, when conflict broke out in the northernmost region of Tigray.” However, despite signing a peace agreement in 2022, they said conditions have not improved. 

“Temporary Protected Status provides individuals already present in the United States with protection from removal when conditions in their home country prevent their safe return,” Secretary Mayorkas said. “That is the situation facing Ethiopians who arrived here on or before April 11 of this year. We are granting them protection through this temporary form of humanitarian relief that the law provides.”

Extending and expanding TPS will provide lifesaving humanitarian relief to impacted families while boosting local, state, and national economies. For example, 83% of TPS holders from Honduras and 86% of TPS holders from El Salvador participate in the labor force and contribute to their communities, FWD.us said. “In all, TPS-eligible individuals contribute nearly $31 billion annually to the U.S. economy.” Many TPS-protected individuals also send funds to relatives in their home countries, which could “help reduce irregular migration from these countries,” FWD.us continued.

Last week, members of Congress, hundreds of faith voices, and impacted individuals urged the Biden administration to act on similar humanitarian relief for Haiti. They noted that conditions in Haiti have only worsened since the previous extension and redesignation of TPS for Haiti in 2022. Haiti’s acting prime minister resigned this past March, leaving the country in unrest and without a functional government. 

“What we have been witnessing currently is unprecedented in our country’s history,” E, an impacted individual in Haiti, said during a press call. “There has been government complacency in what we’re seeing right now. All of the areas that previously were safe are not safe. The government of Haiti does not have any control of the country. Police officers who are fighting to try to keep things at bay are doing their best, but they don’t know for how long they can continue to fight. The population is left to fend for themselves in this humanitarian crisis.”

Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), Congress’ only Haitian-American representative, said that the “time has come for us to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti and their fight for peace, order, and stability.” 

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) also welcomed Ethiopia’s TPS extension and redesignation, as well as “the establishment of procedures to apply for work authorization for individuals with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) from Palestine, and the announcement of Special Student Relief for F-1 Palestinian students.” AILA urged the Biden administration “to continue using executive authority to protect foreign nationals from countries posing similar risks.”

“With the dire conditions in Ethiopia, the designation brings enormous relief, and we are grateful that the many Ethiopian citizens in the United States can continue to live out their lives freely without the fear of deportation,” said Kalyani Menon, TPS-DED AAC Coordinator. “Designations like these demonstrate the administration’s commitment to racial justice and working towards reducing the inequities in our immigration system, particularly for black and brown immigrants.”