Biden Administration Extends Temporary Protected Status to Somali Nationals

While President Biden should be focusing his efforts on the self-inflicted border crisis, his administration recently launched another initiative protecting foreign nationals residing in the United States. On July 19, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced an 18-month extension and re-designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somali nationals. 

Mayorkas stated that “Through the extension and re-designation 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 a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

TPS was first enacted in 1990 to provide temporary protection from removal to non-resident foreign nationals whose homelands were experiencing armed conflict, disease outbreaks, and natural disasters. As of March 2021, about 320,000 TPS recipients reside in the United States.

An estimated 547 Somali nationals will benefit from the program’s extension through March 17, 2023. However, there is no reason to believe that it will end there. Somalia initially received their TPS designation in 1991 when its civil war first began. What was supposed to be temporary protection has turned into 30 years of de-facto amnesty, drastically exceeding the intended purpose of the original designation.

Somalia represents the rule rather than the exception. Between the program’s inception in 1991 and 2016, there were 22 TPS designations. An astounding 15 of these designations have lasted for five or more years, leaving little doubt that the nations which have been designated for TPS since 2016 will likely keep that status for the foreseeable future. This further demonstrates that in almost every case this program has become anything but temporary. In fact, open borders advocates commonly demand that TPS recipients should be given U.S. citizenship.

Another example of a country with seemingly permanent “temporary” protection from deportation is El Salvador, (251,000 recipients as of 2019) which was first designated for TPS in 2001 after an earthquake ravaged the country. While the effects of this natural disaster were certainly devastating, it in no way constitutes 20 years of protected status under the guise of humanitarian relief.

Furthermore, in 2018 the Trump administration ended this program for El Salvador and three other countries, only for activist judges and open borders activists to delay its termination. While the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually ruled in the President’s favor two years later, it’s unlikely that the Biden administration will follow through with ending TPS for these countries.  

This is not the first time that Secretary Mayorkas has renewed TPS for foreign nationals. In May, Haiti received an 18-month extension of their TPS designation, covering more than 100,000 Haitian nationals residing in the United States. Much like El Salvador, it has been years since a massive earthquake put them on the designation list.

TPS is a deeply flawed program that is providing a form of permanent residency to foreign nationals rather than temporary protection from deportation. For the program to function as it was originally intended, it must only be afforded to those facing a serious humanitarian crisis and who plan on returning to their home countries at the earliest possible opportunity.

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