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On a press call earlier today, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), TPS holders, and immigration policy experts gathered to discuss the upcoming Somalia TPS decision deadline on July 19th. The Trump administration must decide if it will re-designate war-torn Somalia for TPS by Thursday’s deadline.
Somalia was granted TPS over a decade ago ago in light of the continuing deteriorating country conditions. Somali TPS holders have spent decades building their lives here in the U.S. to escape war and humanitarian crises. They deserve to stay with their families and continue building those lives.
Ali Abdul, TPS holder said, “TPS has allowed me to provide for my family which consists of myself, my American wife, and my seven year old son. I came to this country in 2009, under the threat of Al Shabaab. They kidnapped me, and they tortured me for some time. They tried to brainwash me, but luckily I escaped and was able to come to this country. I’m so happy that I’m alive. TPS has allowed me to send my son to school. I was not able to go to school. I didn’t even know if I was going to be alive most days. I’m so scared that my TPS will be terminated. If I go back, I may be tortured and killed. I can’t leave my family, I’m the sole provider for my family.”
Sara Mohamed, wife of TPS holder said, “I work fulltime as the caretaker for my elderly mother and my husband works in the service industry. We make the best of what we have. We always have. In this country, we can provide a life for our family that we can’t in Somalia. This is all our children know. We want our four U.S. citizen children to go to college and build a life here. Somalis face the Muslim Ban and extreme xenophobia, and we are afraid to come out of the shadows. Separating us is ripping our family apart. We are afraid of the police, of ICE, of my husband being arrested and of our family being forcibly separated.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), said, ”We know the current situation in Somalia isn’t ideal to have people go back, and if TPS expires my constituents will be faced with that reality. When they left they were facing conditions of war and drought and other things. I myself have gone to Somalia a couple times and have seen the conditions and elements, like the presence of Al-Qaeda, that make it hard for someone to re-integrate themselves into the community. I think it’s important that we fight to keep families here, because we understand the kind of destruction it creates in their families and communities.”
Patrice Lawrence, Policy Director, UndocuBlack Network said, “This week, a letter in the House of Representatives asking Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Pompeo for redesignation of TPS for Somalis garnered over 80 signatures of support. This issue has caused widespread concern across the country and has bipartisan support behind it. With the conditions being what they are in Somalia, we desperately need redesignation for Somali TPS to happen.”
Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together said, “There is no question that conditions in Somalia meet the criteria for Temporary Protected Status under the law. We call on Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Pompeo to respect the law, and protect the safety of Somali nationals currently in the U.S. TPS for Somalia should be redesignated, not terminated.”
Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director, Council of American Islamic Relations, Minnesota (CAIR-MN) said, “I just want to reiterate that Somalia is still considered one of the most dangerous places in the world. The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is a devastating issue. In fact, it’s a leading cause of death in the country. We believe right now that re-designation for TPS is the best option. We are looking for Congress to pass a legislative solution that will allow for a path to citizenship for TPS holders.”
Yolanda Rondon, Senior Attorney, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said “If forced to return to Somalia, Somali TPS holders will face targeted violence, starvation, severe sickness, and death. The reality is that they need to stay in the United States to survive. It makes no sense to endanger the lives of hundreds to potentially thousands of people. DHS must re-designate TPS for Somalia. It is necessary.”