As January came to a close, the Department of Homeland Security announced an extension to the Temporary Protected Status for nearly 7,000 Syrians that came to the United States before Aug. 1, 2016, but the remaining 2,000 recipients will have to find immigration relief through other channels and no new Syrian applicants will be accepted into the program.
Recipients under TPS are in the United States because they were displaced from their countries due to natural disasters, war and political strife, according U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Syria was granted the status because of a political uprising there in 2011, which erupted into a violent civil war that displaced 6 million people by 2014, according to the Federation of American Scientists, an organization that analyzes national and international security.
“After carefully considering conditions on the ground, I have determined that it is necessary to extend the Temporary Protected Status designation for Syria,” said Dept. of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“It is clear that the conditions upon which Syria’s designation was based continue to exist, therefore an extension is warranted under the statute.”
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs was pleased with the extension.
“New Yorkers welcome the Trump Administration’s decision to provide a common sense extension of Temporary Protected Status for nearly 7,000 Syrians living in the United States today,” said Bitta Mostofi, the Acting Commissioner of MOIA.
However, the lack of support for the newer Syrian TPS recipients by the Trump Administration was deemed inexcusable.
“The Administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth and putting people in danger as a result,” Mostofi said.
Oxfam, an international organization dedicated to combatting poverty, issued a press release on Feb. 5 stating that in the Afrin district of Syria, 140 people have died and 310 were injured by warring parties in the country. Homes were destroyed and more than 5,000 people and have a lack of food, water and medicine.
Babies, young children, pregnant women and the elderly are trapped in the midst of the violence, according to the Oxfam Country Director in Syria, Moutaz Adham.
“By recognizing that Syria is not able to safely absorb current TPS recipients, there is no justification for refusing their fellow nationals currently in the United States the same humanitarian relief,” said Mostofi. “Syria is still an active war zone.”
There is no current count of Syrian TPS recipients in Queens or throughout New York City, according to MOIA.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose