Despite Extension from Trump Administration, Yemeni TPS Holders Continue to Live in Limbo
AFSC says Congress must act
WASHINGTON, DC (July 5, 2018) Today the Trump administration announced it would extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemenis living in the U.S. for 18 months. TPS is a provision under which the government grants protection from deportation to people from certain countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – commended the extension but spoke out against the decision to not admit new Yemenis.
“It’s critical that the Trump administration not only extend but also redesignate TPS for Yemen, which continues to struggle with extreme violence and poverty,” said Peniel Ibe, Policy Fellow for AFSC. “A redesignation of TPS would allow more recently arrived Yemeni nationals to apply for protection through TPS – people who are fleeing from a U.S.-backed war in Yemen.”
There are only around 1,200 Yemenis with TPS in the U.S. Yemen was originally granted TPS because of ongoing conflict and civil war, which has led to the deaths and injury of an estimated 75 people per day. In 2017, the secretary of DHS found that a redesignation of TPS for Yemen was warranted "due to the continued deterioration of the conditions for civilians in Yemen." Earlier this year, the U.N. secretary general declared the war in Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Despite these conditions, the fact that Yemenis were not offered redesignation is causing many to point to a bigger pattern of racial and religious discrimination. "Through the Muslim ban, Yemenis have already been the target of religious discrimination by this Administration," said Mary Zerkel, Coordinator of AFSC’s Communities Against Islamophobia project. "And lawsuits have alleged that recent decisions to terminate TPS for other countries were based on racial discrimination. We fear that this decision not to redesignate is a continuation of the U.S.'s dark history of legalized oppression."
AFSC and others across the country have been working hard to try and save TPS for all countries – bringing TPS holders to Washington, DC to meet with elected officials, organizing call-in days, and holding local events. Multiple lawsuits – based on racial discrimination and infringing on the constitutional rights of TPS beneficiaries – are challenging the administration’s termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras.
“TPS recipients are integral parts of our communities,” said Kristin Kumpf, who serves as Director of Human Migration and Mobility at AFSC. “We are calling on Congress to enact a permanent solution that creates a swift roadmap to Lawful Permanent Residency and citizenship for all TPS recipients and the millions of other immigrants in the U.S.”
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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.