Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas recently announced the extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia. The extension will last for 18 months or through March 17, 2023. The extension goes into effect on September 18, 2021.
This extension and redesignation of TPS for Somalia will allow 447 individuals to remain in the U.S. with TPS status. Individuals who already have TPS will need to reregister their status no later than September 20, 2021, and not allow their employment authorization documents (EADs) to expire first. The 60-day registration window began on July 22, 2021,
It also will allow another 100 foreign nationals of Somalia or those who last resided in Somalia to obtain TPS status. These individuals must have lived continuously in the U.S. since July 19, 2021, to file their initial applications. They can submit these applications for TPS and EADs, if they choose, throughout the entire 18-month extension period. All these individuals must meet the other requirements of TPS status, as well.
Somalia is the site of three decades of an ongoing war. DHS initially designated Somalia for TPS on September 16, 1991. It also has been the recent subject of severe drought and flooding. Finally, outbreaks of both COVID-19 and cholera have majorly taxed the country’s healthcare system, which the violence and conflict already have significantly weakened.
TPS is a form of humanitarian relief that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. until it is safe to repatriate them to their home country. As a result of the longstanding TPS designation for Somalia, some Somalis have been TPS beneficiaries for the past 30 years. Although TPS allows beneficiaries to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation, it offers no path to citizenship. While beneficiaries can independently seek asylum, TPS protects them if they are found ineligible or otherwise don’t qualify for asylum, at least temporarily.
As a result, if conditions in Somalia were to improve substantially so that repatriation was safe, TPS beneficiaries could be forced to return to Somalia, even after 30 years spent in the U.S. with their U.S. citizen children and extended families.
Immigration advocates continue to push for the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 and similar legislation, which would provide the more than 40,000 TPS beneficiaries with a path to citizenship. However, to date, Congress has been unable to obtain the votes needed to push this and similar legislation through the Senate. At present, the Biden administration is proposing a measure creating a pathway to citizenship in the budget resolution measure, which requires only a majority of votes to pass, unlike most bills.
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