News

    Syrians in US To Get Extended Stay

    Syrians in US will be able to have their visas extended because of decision by State Department
    Syrians in US will be able to have their visas extended because of decision by State Department
    Mana Rabiee

    The United States says it will designate a special protection status for Syrian nationals in the U.S., which will allow them to remain in the country until it becomes safer for them to return home to Syria.

    The Department of Homeland Security, in an online statement released on Friday, said it will issue a Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Syrians already in the country.

    The move will allow Syrian nationals visiting the U.S. - on tourist, business, student and other such visas - to remain beyond the designated period of their visas.

    In announcing the move, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said conditions in Syria have worsened to the point where Syrian nationals already in the United States would face “serious threats to their personal safety” if they were to return to their home country.

    Earlier in March, six Democratic senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to quickly designate Syrian nationals for the Temporary Protection Status.

    The letter on March 1 said forcing Syrians to return to their country in the midst of ongoing violence would “undermine U.S. leadership” and be inconsistent with what the senators said is America’s “traditional role as a safe haven for those fleeing repression.”

    Humanitarian Crisis Grows

    The effort to issue the status to Syrian nationals was spearheaded in part by a coalition of advocacy groups in the U.S. concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

    Attorney Abed Ayoub is Legal Director of one of those groups, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the U.S.

    He helped lead the coalition to petition the Department of Homeland Security in January for the Temporary Protection Status.

    Earlier this month, he said the humanitarian situation in Syria was so dire that requiring anybody to return would be “inhumane.”

    “We can’t put these individual’s lives in jeopardy,” he said. “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 to force nationals to return.”

    The Department of Homeland Security’s immigration registry shows there are roughly 3,000 Syrian nationals in the U.S. who would be eligible for the status, although Arab-American activists like Ayoub say the number is much higher.

    Syrians Talk of Fears

    Nassib Nwelati is among those worried about the possibility of having to go back to Syria when his visa expires.  He is in the U.S. on an academic scholarship to study business.  His student visa expires in four months and, until the announcement Friday, he felt unsure of where else to turn.

    “Many Syrians I know are scared to go back,” said Nassib. “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.”   

    The Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce details Thursday on how Syrians already visiting the U.S. may apply for the Temporary Protection Status.   All applicants will have to undergo full background checks.

    The U.S. government has issued similar “blanket” protections to foreign nationals in the past, including to Haitians following the earthquake of 2010 and most recently in 2011 to nationals of South Sudan.

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora