Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that Afghans present in the United States could now benefit from Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS is a form of de facto amnesty that allows removable aliens to remain in the United States for a temporary period of time, normally 12-18 months. However, presidents from both parties routinely abused TPS by extending it indefinitely – stripping TPS of its “temporary” moniker.
In the department’s release, Mayorkas stated that “TPS will also provide additional protections and assurances to trusted partners and vulnerable Afghans who supported the U.S. military, diplomatic, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.” This TPS designation confirms what we knew all along – many of the Afghans quickly allowed into the country by the Biden administration are ineligible for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The SIV program is explicitly for interpreters and translators who assisted our military, as well as Afghans who the U.S. government employed. If these Afghans could not qualify for the SIV program, then why did the Biden administration airlift them thousands of miles away to the United States?
Also, why did Mayorkas wait six months to issue TPS for Afghans? The situation in Afghanistan is hardly different now than it was in August, and certainly is not worse. Did Mayorkas wait six months in order to increase the number of Afghans in the country, before extending this benefit? Did Mayorkas push for TPS only now that he has a sufficient Afghan population on U.S. soil?
The abuses of TPS are well-documented and well-known. But this could be in a category all its own. TPS a last-resort option for unforeseen events, such as the war in Ukraine. The situation in Afghanistan is clear. It has been clear since August, when the U.S. withdrew from the country and ceded control to the Taliban. What could possibly warrant waiting six months for a TPS designation?
TPS is not the political plaything of the DHS secretary. Congress must use its oversight authority to investigate this unprecedented abuse of authority.