The Department of Homeland Security is redesigning and extending Temporary Protected Status to thousands of Syrian nationals already residing in the United States, DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson announced Monday.
TPS is an immigration benefit granted to foreign nationals, regardless of legal status, “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”
With Monday’s announcement, approximately 5,800 current Syrian TPS beneficiaries are expected to apply for re-registration and an estimated 2,500 additional Syrians are expected to file initial applications for TPS, allowing them to remain and work in the U.S. — even if they are in the country illegally. The benefit is scheduled to last for another 18 months from October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018, unless it is again redesigned, as is often the case.
The announcement posted in the Federal Register reads:
The Secretary has determined that an extension of the current designation and a redesignation of Syria for TPS are warranted because the ongoing armed conflict and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted the 2015 TPS redesignation have not only persisted, but have deteriorated, and because the ongoing armed conflict in Syria and other extraordinary and temporary conditions would pose a serious threat to the personal safety of Syrian nationals if they were required to return to their country,” the announcement posted in the Federal Register reads.
Currently 13 countries are designated for TPS. Syrian nationals or “those persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria” seeking to obtain the benefit must prove they have been continuously in the U.S. effective August 1, 2016.
In recent months the Obama Administration have been accelerating the processing of Syrian refugees to meet its goal of admitting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. by the end of this fiscal year. The administration is pursuing this objective despite warnings and concerns voiced by Republicans and top security officials that vulnerabilities in the vetting process could result in terrorists infiltrating the refugee stream.