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Dingell Leads Call to Extend, Re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Yemen

Washington, December 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) led a group of House members in calling on the Trump Administration to urgently extend and re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen due to the ongoing armed conflict within the country. Action is required by the Department of Homeland Security before Yemen’s TPS status expires on January 3, 2020.

TPS, once designated, allows individuals from nations experiencing war, natural disasters, or extraordinary circumstances to live and work in the United States on a temporary basis. The status for Yemen was originally designated in 2015 and re-designated in 2017 and 2018 as the conflict and humanitarian crisis worsened.  

“The war in Yemen has had drastic humanitarian and security consequences, and TPS is both deserved and warranted under law for these reasons. The outbreak of war, which was the main reason for TPS designation in September 2015,  remains ongoing, with widespread violence throughout the country,” the lawmakers wrote. “Current TPS recipients from Yemen living in safely in the United States have contributed greatly to the social and economic welfare of our communities. Failing to extend TPS for Yemenis who have it and re-designate it for eligible individuals will put many men, women, children, and families in jeopardy and while undermining the security of the American homeland.”

During the designated period, eligible nationals of Yemen (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) who are approved for TPS will not be removed from the United States.

For more information about the application process and eligibility requirements, please visit https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status.

Members of the community who need assistance should contact Dingell’s Dearborn office at 313-278-2936.

In addition to Dingell, the letter was signed by Reps. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3), Ilhan Omar (MN-5), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), Jim Costa (CA-16), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), David E. Price (NC-4), Rick Larsen (WA-2), André Carson (IN-7), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Peter Welch (VT), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-5), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Ted Deutch (FL-22), and Dina Titus (NV-1).

The full letter can be read here or below:

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf and Secretary Pompeo:

Soon, this administration will decide the fate of nearly 1,200 Yemeni nationals who depend upon Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for their continued livelihood, safety, and survival as TPS for Yemen expires on March 3, 2020. We write to strongly urge you to both extend and re-designate TPS for Yemen through the timely publication of a federal register notice on or before the decision deadline on January 3, 2020.

The war in Yemen has had drastic humanitarian and security consequences, and TPS is both deserved and warranted under law for these reasons. The outbreak of war, which was the main reason for TPS designation in September 2015,[1] remains ongoing, with widespread violence throughout the country. The United Nations and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project recently reported that over 100,000 people died in the civil war, including over 20,000 killed in 2019 alone.[2]  All parties involved in the war are indiscriminately targeting civilians and vital civilian infrastructure, including residences, medical centers, and transportation networks.[3]

Moreover, the war’s widespread destruction has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, an extraordinary and temporary condition that justified the extension and re-designation of TPS in 2018.[4]  Over 24 million Yemenis—roughly two-thirds of the population—need some form of humanitarian assistance. At least 8.4 million are severely food insecure, and nearly every governorate in the country is at crisis levels for impending famine.[5]  The civil war has caused 3.6 million Yemenis to be internally displaced, the majority of which have now been displaced for over one year.[6]  Preventable diseases are rampant, with the international community recording almost 850,000 suspected cases of cholera, as well as the spread of diphtheria and measles across the country.[7]

The case for extending TPS for the 18-month maximum allowed by the law, and re-designating TPS for eligible Yemenis, is statutorily clear. The armed conflict renders the safe return of roughly 1,200 Yemeni TPS holders in the United States unfeasible and inhumane. The humanitarian crisis represents a “substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions” for Yemenis, and the civil war and loss of territory and vital infrastructure continues to render the Yemeni government “unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return” of Yemenis (8 U.S.C. §1254a).

Extending and re-designating TPS for Yemen is also clearly in the interest of America’s national security. Since March 2015, the United States has been involved in a regional military campaign in support of the internationally recognized government and seeks, for the stability of Yemen and its neighbors, a negotiated settlement to the conflict and an amelioration of its resulting humanitarian crisis. The sudden return of 1,200 Yemenis will not only further undermine the international humanitarian response in Yemen, but also undermine America’s standing amongst our allies while empowering antagonistic states and non-state actors in the region contrary to our longstanding security interests.

Current TPS recipients from Yemen living in safely in the United States have contributed greatly to the social and economic welfare of our communities. Failing to extend TPS for Yemenis who have it and re-designate it for eligible individuals will put many men, women, children, and families in jeopardy and while undermining the security of the American homeland.

Sincerely,

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[1]Designation of the Republic of Yemen for Temporary Protected Status; USCIS Notice, 80 Fed. Reg. 53319 (September 3, 2015).

[2] Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, https://www.acleddata.com/

[3] “Yemen--World Report 2019,” Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/yemen. Human Rights Watch documented 90 unlawful coalition airstrikes, killing nearly 1,000 civilians, and targeting homes, markets, hospitals, schools, and mosques. Id. Cluster munitions and air bombardment strikes have also been deployed in the country. Id.

[4] Extension and Redesignation of the Republic of Yemen for Temporary Protected Status; USCIS Notice, 83 FR 40307 (August 14, 2018).

[5] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). (2019). Yemen: Emergency Dashboard (October 2019). Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/WFP-0000110159.pdf.

[6] Id.

[7] World Health Organization, Outbreak Update – Cholera in Yemen, 7 July 2019, http://www.emro.who.int/pandemic-epidemic-diseases/cholera/outbreak-update-cholera-in-yemen-7-july-2019.html

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