Extension of TPS for Somalia for 18 months leaves many people still at risk

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The federal government’s decision Jan. 17 to extend Temporary Protected Status for Somalia for 18 months allows about 500 people protection from deportation but does nothing to help other Somalis who have arrived in the United States since 2012. 

The extension will allow Somalis who hold TPS to renew their status, including work permits, and remain in the United States through Sept. 17, 2021. The Department of Homeland Security did not redesignate TPS for Somalia, as called for by CLINIC, other organizations and Members of Congress. Redesignation would have opened TPS to Somalis who arrived in the United States more recently than 2012.

Living conditions in Somalia continue to be dire due to armed conflict, climate extremes, including floods and drought, and devastating food shortages. At least 2.6 million people are displaced in Somalia and 5.2 million people, nearly half the population, are in need of humanitarian aid.

“Advocates called on the administration to redesignate TPS for Somalia because not only are dangerous conditions ongoing, in some cases they are deteriorating,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s advocacy director. “In the past few weeks, Al-Shabaab has carried out a series of horrific attacks, including the Dec. 28 bombing that killed nearly 80 people in Somalia’s capital. These conditions are not safe for current TPS holders and they are not safe for the people who would have benefited from redesignation. The failure to redesignate and offer protection for more recently arrived Somalis is senseless and cruel.”

CLINIC was among 140 organizations and faith leaders who wrote to Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security in December asking him to not only extend TPS for Somalia but to redesignate. Redesignation would have meant the option to seek TPS would be open to people who arrived in the United States more recently than the current cutoff date in 2012. 

CLINIC has repeatedly called for Congress to investigate the handling of TPS for various countries, noting ways the administration has not followed the law and past practice for how TPS decisions are made.