By UUSC on July 5, 2018
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Yemen offers much-needed relief for the more than 1,200 Yemeni nationals living in the United States who would otherwise be threatened with deportation to unsafe conditions.
However, by refusing to announce a new designation for Yemen, the administration fails to protect Yemeni immigrants who arrived in the United States since the March 2017 TPS designation. This decision leaves them at risk of being returned to a country in the throes of one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and a devastating conflict that the U.S. government is actively sponsoring. Further, the decision comes a little over a week since the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s “Muslim Ban,”which bars travelers from Yemen from entering the United States.
Yemeni nationals living in the United States were initially granted TPS in September 2015, due to the outbreak of a destructive civil war between Houthi armed groups and the U.S.-backed Saudi-led military coalition. Yemen’s TPS determination was extended and re-designated in March 2017, in recognition of the deepening humanitarian crisis.
The Trump administration’s decision not to re-designate Yemen for TPS is impossible to reconcile with a fair reading of the purpose of the program, which is to ensure that people currently living in the United States are not forcibly removed to places where their lives and safety would be at risk.
Yemen is experiencing an active conflict that has displaced three million people and left more than 10,000 dead, 17 million hungry, and includes the fastest-growing cholera outbreak in recorded history. There is no other country in the world that more completely and clearly meets the standards for TPS re-designation.
It is particularly outrageous for the United States to fail to provide adequate protection for the victims of its foreign policy. Over the past two administrations, the U.S. government has provided active military and financial support for the Saudi-led coalition, wreaking irreparable harm on Yemeni society.
Today’s decision adds to a growing list of Trump administration efforts to undermine the U.S. immigration system. Since August 2017, DHS has canceled TPS for Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan, as well as announced the end of a similar program, Deferred Enforced Departure, for Liberian refugees. Syria, like Yemen, had its status renewed but also failed to receive re-designation.
That the administration did not see sufficient reason to re-designate or renew TPS for any of these countries, strongly suggests that the Trump administration will not provide protection to nationals of any country, no matter how extreme the circumstances. This would be a flagrant abdication of moral duty, international leadership, and basic humanity.
These policies provide further evidence of the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for the United States’ moral and legal obligations to people fleeing danger. We are witnessing an across the board assault on the most basic principles of human rights. The responsibility rests with Congress to enact permanent legislative protections for TPS holders, so that more lives will not be thrown into fear and confusion by this administration’s callous decisions.