News

Syrians in US May Get Extended Stays

Mana Rabiee

With the violence in Syria showing little sign of ending, Syrian nationals visiting the U.S. are worried about having to return to Syria once their American visas run out. The Obama Administration is considering a special protection status for Syrian nationals that would allow them to remain in the U.S. - until it’s safe for them to return home.

Syrian-Americans rallied again in Washington, last week, against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Many of them are worried their relatives and loved ones who have been in the United States on temporary visas will have to go back to Syria once their visas run out.

Among those at risk: Nassib Nwelati, a Syrian student here on a scholarship to study business.

“Many Syrians I know are scared to go back. They don’t know what to do. They have been so worried because not only you need to worry about what’s going on in Syria and watch the news and cry for these people. But also you need to worry about your status because the time is ticking, the clock is ticking,”  Nwelati said.

Now help may be on the way.  Voice of America has learned the Obama Administration is about to recommend what is called a “Temporary Protection Status” for Syrian nationals currently in the U.S.

If approved, the move would allow Syrian nationals already in the United States - on tourist, business, student and other such visas - to remain in the country, until the situation in Syria stabilizes and becomes safer for the nationals to go home.

Earlier this month, six Democratic senators sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to quickly designate Syrian nationals for the temporary protection status.

They say forcing Syrians to return to their country in the midst of ongoing violence would undermine U.S. leadership and is inconsistent with what they say is America’s traditional role as a safe haven for those fleeing repression.

Attorney Abed Ayoub is with the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the U.S.  He helped lead a coalition of groups to petition the Department of Homeland Security in January for the temporary protection status.

“The humanitarian situation on the ground in Syria is dire. And forcing anybody to return is inhumane. We can’t put these individual’s lives in  jeopardy . If the U.S. State Department feels the embassy over there is not safe enough for their employees then, for sure, the country’s not safe enough for its nationals to return,” he said.

Data from the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration registry says there are about 3,000 Syrian nationals who would be eligible, although Arab-American activists say that number is much higher.

But for visiting Syrians like Nassib, the protection status may literally mean the difference between life and death.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs