Posted on January 18, 2020 in Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Ryan J. Suto | rsuto@aaiusa.org | (202) 429-9210

January 18, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Late Friday night, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will extend for 18 months, but not re-designate, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia. Current TPS holders will have their status extended until September 17, 2021. However, the failure to re-designate TPS for Somalia abandons the moral and legal obligation of the United States to protect recently-arrived Somalis in the United States from being forced to return to life-threatening conditions in Somalia.

TPS allows citizens of specified war-torn or disaster-impacted countries to live and work in the U.S. Somalia has been designated for the TPS program since 1991 because of ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions. Unfortunately, many of those conditions still remain today. The State Department’s travel warning for Somalia, updated in October 2019, states plainly, “Do not travel to Somalia due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, kidnapping, and piracy.”

Nonetheless, while today’s 18-month extension will allow 500 Somalis in the U.S. under TPS to remain here, the decision to not re-designate will prohibit any Somali nationals who have arrived in the U.S. after September 2012 to be protected from deportation back to Somalia. Regardless of when Somalis have arrived in the U.S, all need protection from the humanitarian emergency of their home country. If the U.S. government advises against travel to Somalia, the government should not force Somalis to return. For these reasons, last month AAI joined over 100 other organizations in sending a letter the Department of Homeland Security signed calling on the administration to extend and re-designate TPS for Somalia.

AAI Executive Director Maya Berry stated,

“The government has again shown no compassion to the victims of the terrible conditions in Somalia. Like the extension, but not re-designation, of TPS for Somalia earlier this month and the failure to re-designate TPS for Syria in August 2019, this action reflects the callousness this administration has repeatedly displayed toward their obligation to human rights and human decency. The administration continues to abandon the role that the United States has historically played in providing aid to the distressed. Nonetheless, AAI will continue to fight for the humane treatment of all who have been victimized by war and systemic violence.”