March 19, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
President Obama Urged to Allow Syrian Nationals
in US to Remain for Now
(Washington, D.C.) –The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) today urged President Obama to issue an order as soon as possible allowing Syrian citizens who are currently in the U.S. on temporary visas to remain legally, until it is safe again to return to their home country. USCRI first called for a Presidential order extending ‘temporary protected status’ (TPS) to Syrian citizens here a year ago after the government crackdown on peaceful protests began. Earlier this month, USCRI was joined by six U.S. Senators in urging President Obama to offer TPS to Syrian nationals.
“There are hundreds of Syrians with visas to study or work temporarily in the United States that will soon expire. This is an urgent matter for them - maybe even one of life or death,” said Lavinia Limon, President and Chief Executive Officer. “It is far too dangerous for people to return to Syria today. But without a declaration of ‘temporary protected status’ for these Syrian nationals, they will need to disregard the terms of their visas in order to stay. We hope the President will help them by ordering temporary protection and the right to remain in our country until it is safe to return.”
One typical case that has come to USCRI’s attention is that of a young Syrian national named ‘Ahmad’. (His real name cannot be used because of the threat of retaliation against his family in Syria) He is a student in the southwest U.S. who has been working towards a college degree there for the past 4 years. When he graduates next month, he is legally required to return home to Syria.
“I am scared to go home to Syria. I think my life would be at stake. We have all heard the reports of the government arresting any returning Syrians when they get off the plane at the airport, and being tortured. After spending several years in the United States, of course I would be targeted,” ‘Ahmad’ said. “If the government assumes you were protesting overseas against Syria, it is even more dangerous. I do not want to break any laws here by overstaying my visa, but I cannot possibly go home.”
*** ‘AHMAD’ IS AVAILABLE FOR PRINT, TV OR ELECTRONIC INTERVIEW PROVIDED HIS IDENTITY IS PROTECTED ****
TPS is a temporary immigration status, which allows foreign nationals who meet all registration requirements to live, work, and study in the United States during the period of designation. It does not lead to permanent residency. TPS may be granted in situations where there are extraordinary and temporary conditions, such as war or natural disaster, in the home country that prevent nationals from returning safely. TPS already is available to citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.
USCRI has been protecting refugees, serving immigrants and upholding freedom since 1911. Visit our website at www.refugees.org.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is a Washington, DC area based nonprofit organization, dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide by advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of refugees and immigrants in community life.
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 2231 Crystal Drive Suite 350,
Arlington, VA 22202-3794, (703) 310-1166, www.refugees.org