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Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be extended for 18 months for Syrians living in the United States currently protected under the program, but also broke the news that they would not redesignate Syria as an eligible TPS country. At the drop of a hat, all Syrian immigrants who have come to the United States after August 2016 were subjected to deportation to a war zone.
Media reports responded accordingly; relevant excerpts are below:
New York Times: 6,900 Syrians Win Permission to Stay in the U.S., for Now
By Vivian Yee
“There is an inconsistency in the administration’s own message,” Mr. Ford said, adding that neither government- nor rebel-controlled areas were safe for civilians. “The Syrian conflict is not finished.”
By Elise Foley
Advocates estimate that an additional 2,000 Syrians came to the U.S. after August 2016, meaning they would have been allowed to apply for TPS had it been redesignated, although there are no official figures. They could have come through various avenues, including as students, tourists or business travelers. If they overstay the visas they used to enter the U.S. and cannot receive TPS, they could be at risk of deportation.
By Noah Lanard
Royce Murray, the policy director at the American Immigration Council, an immigrant advocacy group, said that with the conditions in Syria “not in dispute, there is no basis for making any such distinction to leave some Syrians with protections and others without.”
By Geneva Sands
Reaction from Syrians in the U.S. and advocates were immediately critical of the decision.
“While we do welcome an extension, we are deeply disappointed that TPS will not be re-designated for Syria,” said Royce Murray, policy director at the Washington-based non-profit American Immigration Council.
She also pointed out that the State Department’s own travel advisory for Syria, begins with: “Do not travel to Syria.”
By Esther Lee
Rasha Ajalyaqeen — a Syrian U.S. legal resident with family members impacted by decision — said that she had planned to apply for TPS for her 92-year-old mother who was hoping to apply for TPS when her current visa expires. But now she’s unsure her mother, who currently lives in the United States, can qualify for TPS because of the White House’s announcement. Syria was included in Trump’s travel ban, and it is also among a list of “high-risk” countries that face an even more arduous refugee application process.
“We are in a difficult position and I hope someone would just feel that we deserve a little bit better,” Ajalyaqeen said.