President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending temporary amnesty status for more than 7,400 Syrian nationals living in the United States who would otherwise be eligible for deportation.
On Friday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the Biden administration will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 more months to nearly 6,500 Syrians in the U.S. Another nearly 1,000 Syrians are expected to become eligible for TPS under the extension.
The move comes after former President Obama created TPS for Syrians and then extended the quasi-amnesty in 2016. Later, in 2018, former President Trump’s administration again extended TPS for Syrians.
“We are committed to protecting Syrian nationals in the United States as the ongoing civil war in Syria persists, leading to continued destruction and despair,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “Under this redesignation, Syrian nationals residing in the United States as of July 28, 2022, will be eligible to stay, as it is remains unsafe for them to return to their country.”
TPS serves as a quasi-amnesty for foreign nationals, created under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 (INA), that prevents deportations for those from countries experiencing famine, war, or natural disasters.
Since the Clinton administration, TPS has been transformed into a de facto amnesty program as the Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden administrations have continuously renewed the program for a variety of countries.
As of 2021, more than 400,000 foreign nationals live in the United States on TPS status. Nearly 350,000 of those foreign nationals on TPS are from Venezuela.