By UUSC on July 20, 2018
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 500 Somali immigrants in the United States. While this offers fleeting relief, the government’s failure to re-designate Somalia for TPS, leaves thousands of Somali immigrants without protected status and at risk of deportation to life-threatening conditions in their home country.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s partner, the UndocuBlack Network, has led efforts to defend TPS for Somalia and other countries recently. They shared the words of Ali Abdul, a Somali TPS holder, on what this decision means:
“While I feel so relieved to know that my TPS got extended, I feel so sorry for my friends who I talk to every night. They will not be able to apply for TPS. I was hoping they would get a chance too, a lot of them still have check-ins with ICE and can be deported at any time.”
TPS recipients are granted protections to stay in the United States because of disaster, war, famine, and political collapse in their country of origin. Somalia is currently experiencing crises on multiple levels. The United Nations estimates that continuing armed conflicts in Somalia have displaced more than two million people, and reported 1,228 civilians deaths occurring in the first nine months of 2017. A particularly horrific attack in October 2017 took the lives of 500 people in a single day. There is also widespread food insecurity.
The Trump administration’s refusal to re-designate Somalia is particularly egregious because the United States bears moral responsibility for the country’s desperate circumstances. U.S. drone strikes have killed civilians in Somalia, and the White House has dangerously lowered the safeguards for preventing civilian deaths.
This decision is in line with its previous attacks on individual immigrant communities of color as well as the integrity of U.S. humanitarian programs at large. As a candidate, Trump verbally attacked Somali refugees in Minnesota, and the country is included in the president’s notorious “Muslim Ban.”
The Trump administration’s repeated and systematic disregard for its humanitarian obligations proves that it cannot be trusted to respect the safety and lives of people who are vulnerable. UUSC has previously condemned efforts to undermine TPS in Yemen, Syria, Haiti, and El Salvador, Honduras, and Nepal. As we continue to resist and counter these harmful policies we draw inspiration from the strength and resilience of the affected communities and our partners at the UndocuBlack Network and the Greater Minnesota Worker Center, many of whose members are Somali refugees and immigrants, and who have spoken out in defense of Somali TPS holders.
Earlier this week UUSC issued a report chronicling the multiple ways this administration is actively working to dismantle humanitarian protection in the United States. We invite you to read the report at uusc.org/protectasylum and take direct action by urging Congress to defend and expand TPS protections in the United States.