Thousands more Somali immigrants eligible for temporary protections under Biden admin announcement

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday that it would be both extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia. This means that not only will current enrollees be able to extend their protections for another 18 months, the amount of immigrants eligible for the program will increase five-fold.

In the government’s statement, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, cited “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions” in extending and redesignating relief for Somali immigrants. Right now, about 430 hold this type of relief. The announcement extends their work permits and protection from deportation another 18 months, through September 2024.

But under the redesignation, an estimated 2,200 additional Somali immigrations will be eligible for relief. Immigrants must “have been continuously residing in the United States since January 11, 2023 to file initial applications to obtain TPS, if they are otherwise eligible,” DHS said.

“Through the extension and redesignation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status, the United States will be able to offer safety and protection to Somalis who may not be able to return to their country, due to ongoing conflict and the continuing humanitarian crisis,” Mayorkas said. “We will continue to offer our support to Somali nationals through this temporary form of humanitarian relief.”

The announcement was commended by advocates who have been pushing for the Biden administration to act. “For decades, the Somali population has faced armed conflict and a humanitarian crisis,” a coalition statement received by Daily Kos read. “The prospect of deportation would have put Somali nationals in the U.S. in intolerable levels of danger. African Communities Together (ACT) and the TPS-DED Administrative Advocacy Coalition (TPS-DED AAC) led a campaign for TPS for Somalia, supported by a coalition of 116 organizations advocating for civil and human rights.” They note the call was also supported by numerous members of Congress.

“As millions of Somalis face armed conflict, hunger, and drought, the Biden administration made the right choice in extending and redesignating TPS for Somalia,” Diana Konaté, policy director with African Communities Together, said in the release. “This designation will protect countless families and generations of Somalis in the United States from violence and humanitarian crisis.”

“Historically difficult conditions in Somalia mean that the Biden Administration made the right call in extending and redesignating TPS for the country,” Ramya Reddy, co-coordinator of the TPS-DED Administrative Advocacy Coalition, added.

Presidents have authority under U.S. law to designate nations for relief should conditions merit it. On its face it may not sound like very exciting law, but it is lifesaving for those who qualify. That’s why the insurrection administration under orders from noted white supremacist Stephen Miller steadily attacked it. Since coming into office, the Biden administration has leaned into its authority, extending relief for immigrants from nations including El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Meanwhile, advocates have continued to urge relief for Mauritania.