18-month extension of TPS for Yemen leaves at risk many more who escaped devastating war

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The Jan. 3 decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Yemen allows the 1,250 people it currently covers another 18 months in the United States, yet does not allow potentially thousands of more recently arrived Yemenis to apply for protection from the war-ravaged country.

The previous extension of TPS for Yemen was due to expire March 3. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that Yemenis who currently hold TPS will be able to remain in the United States and extend work permits until at least Sept. 3, 2021.

“Congress created TPS to protect people from the exact type of massive humanitarian crisis that exists in Yemen today,” said Jill Marie Bussey, advocacy director for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. “The failure to redesignate TPS for Yemen is the failure to use the law as Congress intended. The need for protection from this crisis does not change based on the day a person arrives in the United States — to offer protection to current TPS holders but not to more recently arrived people is illogical and unconscionable. Congress must investigate and the administration must be held accountable."

CLINIC and 128 other faith leaders and organizations in a Dec. 13 letter to the Department of Homeland Security called upon the administration to extend and redesignate TPS for Yemen. A similar letter delivered the same day called for the same actions for TPS for Somalia. TPS for Somalia is due to expire March 17, meaning the administration must make a decision by Jan. 17.

In September 2019, a joint statement by two dozen relief agencies to the U.N. General Assembly called the situation in Yemen “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” That report was among details of a newly updated CLINIC backgrounder on the situation in Yemen. More than three-quarters of the population, 24.1 million people, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Experts warn that Yemen is “one step” away from famine. One of the worst cholera epidemics ever recorded has affected nearly a million people, with 1,234 deaths reported in the first half of 2019, an escalation from the previous year.