Posted on January 03, 2020 in Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

January 3, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will extend for 18 months, but not re-designate, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen. Current TPS holders will have their status extended until September 3, 2021. However, the failure to re-designate TPS for Yemen abandons the moral and legal obligation of the United States to protect recently-arrived Yemenis in the United States from being forced to return to life-threatening conditions in Yemen.

TPS allows citizens of specified war-torn or disaster-impacted countries to live and work in the U.S. Yemen has been designated for the TPS program since 2015 because of ongoing armed conflict in that country. At that time, the U.S. government wrote that, “ongoing violence and airstrikes are restricting the movement of civilians to safe areas and restricting their ability to receive needed basic services and supplies,” and that “The impact on key logistical and civilian infrastructure across Yemen from the airstrikes and ground fighting has been devastating. Yemen has suffered heavy damage to its airports, harbors, bridges and roads, which presents significant obstacles to relief efforts.”

Unfortunately, those conditions in Yemen continue to this day, rendering the safe return of Yemeni nationals impossible. In their Yemen travel advisory updated just 40 days ago, the U.S. Department of State writes, “Terrorist groups continue to plot and conduct attacks in Yemen. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting public sites, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities… Military conflict has caused significant destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities.”

Nonetheless, while today’s 18-month extension will allow nearly 1,200 Yemenis in the U.S. under TPS to remain here, the decision to not re-designate will prohibit other Yemenis from applying for TPS protection, despite the same urgent need for safe haven. For these reasons, last month AAI supported a letter signed by two dozen members of Congress calling on the administration to extend and re-designate TPS for Yemen.

AAI Executive Director Maya Berry stated,

While the Trump administration provides support to the military campaign in Yemen which contributes to the suffering there, it again chooses to show no quarter to the victims of that policy. Like the extension, but not re-designation, of TPS for Yemen in July 2018 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.”