Nielsen Extends Temporary Protected Status for Somalis

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speaks in the press briefing room of the White House on April 4, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/ Abaca/Sipa via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen extended temporary protected status for Somalis, determining that those currently covered under the program are unable to safely return to their home country.

Somalia was first designated a TPS country in 1991, with redesignations in 2001 and 2012. Individuals covered under TPS can receive work authorization in the U.S.

“After carefully reviewing conditions in Somalia with interagency partners, Secretary Nielsen determined the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist. Therefore, pursuant to the statute, she has extended Somalia’s TPS designation for 18 months,” DHS said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Nielsen also extended TPS for Yemen; earlier this year, it was extended for Syria. This spring, DHS announced TPS for Nepal and Honduras would be ended.

Somalis covered under TPS will be eligible to re-register for an extension through March 17, 2020. “Prior to the conclusion of the 18-month extension, the secretary will review conditions in Somalia to determine whether its TPS designation should be extended again or terminated,” DHS said.

“The decision to extend TPS for Somalia was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s designation is based. Following careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the secretary determined that the conditions supporting Somalia’s designation for TPS continue to exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be extended.”

Currently, about 500 Somalis are covered under TPS. “To be eligible for TPS under Somalia’s current designation, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since May 1, 2012, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since September 18, 2012,” DHS said.

The current president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, holds both Somali and American citizenship, having earned his degrees in Buffalo, N.Y., and working as a commissioner at the New York State Department of Transportation before winning the election last year.

The former president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was reportedly denied a visa in March under President Trump’s travel ban when he was trying to fly into the country to give a lecture to the World Council Affairs of Maine.