Posted by Tess Waggoner on August 01, 2019 in Blog

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will extend, but not re-designate, temporary protected status (TPS) for Syria. The failure to re-designate TPS for Syria abandon’s the moral and legal obligation of the United States to protect recently-arrived Syrians in the United States from being forced to return to life-threatening conditions in Syria.

TPS allows citizens of specified war-torn or disaster-impacted countries to live and work in the U.S. Syria has been designated for the TPS program since 2012 due to ongoing armed conflict in that country, and at present there are nearly 7,000 Syrians living in the U.S. under TPS. At that time, the U.S. government wrote that, “there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that prevent Syrian nationals from returning in safety, and that permitting such aliens to remain temporarily in the United States would not be contrary to the national interest of the United States.”[i] And as recently as April of this year the Department of State issued a travel advisory for Syria, stating, “No part of Syria is safe from violence. Kidnappings, the use of chemical warfare, shelling, and aerial bombardment pose significant risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country.” [ii]

Unfortunately, those conditions in Syria continue to this day, rendering the safe return of Syrian nationals impossible. Nonetheless, while today’s 18-month extension will allow current TPS holders to remain in the U.S., the decision to not re-designate will prohibit other Syrians from applying for TPS protection, despite the same urgent need for safe haven.

AAI Executive Director Maya Berry stated,

“AAI has advocated for the TPS designation of Syria since 2012. Like the decision to extend but not re-designate TPS for Yemen in July 2018, the decision to not re-designate TPS for Syria reflects the callousness this administration has repeatedly displayed toward their obligation to human rights and human decency. While the Trump administration seeks to abandon the role that the United States has historically played in providing aid to the distressed, AAI will continue to fight for the humane treatment of all who have been victimized by systemic violence.”

[i] Designation of Syrian Arab Republic for Temporary Protected Status, 77 Fed. Reg. 61,19026 (Mar. 29, 2012),