A victory and a defeat: Administration extends Temporary Protected Status for some Syrians; Fails to redesignate Syria
Following impassioned and contentious advocacy and debate, the Administration yesterday concluded to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Syria for another 18 months. The TPS designation applies specifically to countries where there is “ongoing armed conflict” and where conditions exist that would “prevent [return to that country] in safety.” Without this extension, 5,800 Syrians, resident in the United States since August 2016, who are contributors to their American communities, risked deportation on March 31.
However, the Administration refused to redesignate Syria for TPS, despite its own acknowledgement that no part of Syria is safe and that ground conditions warranting Syria’s initial designation are unchanged. As a result, some 1,100 Syrians who arrived after August 2016 – and any who would now seek to flee the continuing atrocities – cannot apply for TPS and are subject to deportation risk and likely harm or death.
Georgette F. Bennett, Founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), simultaneously commended and decried this decision: “This is a humane and essential response to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time, at least for current Syrian TPS-holders. By the Department of State’s own recent acknowledgement, conditions in Syria are so desperate that no one should return. It is both illogical and unconscionable that the Administration refuses to redesignate Syria for TPS given identical circumstances. This is a compromise without content.”
MFA advocated both extension and redesignation of TPS for Syria by letter to Secretaries Nielsen and Tillerson, emphasizing both the State Department’s own judgment and the disastrous conditions in Syria. MFA also joined coalitions of faith leaders, faith organizations, human rights, immigration and advocacy organizations in making similar appeals.
MFA applauds the Administration’s TPS extension but urges reconsideration of redesignation, which would be justified on the same grounds.
The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), a project of the Tides Center, is a coalition of more than 90 faith-based and secular organizations. MFA’s mission is to mobilize the interfaith response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, raise funds to alleviate suffering, cultivate partnerships to advance future stability in the region, advocate for sensible and humane refugee policies, and create awareness of the facts, the needs, and the opportunities for positive action.