The latest open door to potentially dangerous Syrians was the Monday announcement of DHS chief Jeh Johnson that 8000 Syrians of varying legality would be allowed to remain in this country under the Temporary Protected Status category. TPS has long been a joke even in the chaotic immigration realm because “temporary” actually means forever, or at least for an indeterminate period.
The issue was explained on Fox News Tuesday:
ELIZABETH PRANN: The Department of Homeland Security granting protected status to more than 8,000 Syrian refugees living in the US, whether they’re here legally or not. The move is fueling fears ISIS terrorists could slip into the country unnoticed. Secretary Jeh Johnson saying refugees can’t go back home saying quote in part, “Attacks against civilians, the use of chemical weapons and irregular warfare tactics as well as forced conscription and use of child soldiers have intensified the humanitarian crisis.” National correspondent William La Jeunesse is live in Los Angeles. William can you explain this program to us.
WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE: Sure, it’s back door and a less controversial way to invite and allow more Syrian refugees to stay in the US legally than trying to go through Congress, regardless of those immigrants arrived here legally or not. Critics say the problem is there’s nothing temporary about Temporary Protected Status. It was created in 1990, the program, and not once in 25 years has anyone been required to leave because their status ran out. So the decision by Secretary Johnson provides amnesty to 8000 Syrians already here. They will get a work permit, a social security number, a driver’s license and are eligible for welfare. Now what’s different here is this is kind of a rolling amnesty. Typically protected status only applies to a select group of immigrants affected by a specific event — earthquake or hurricane. This designation however not only grandfathers all Syrians in who have been arrived before 2012, but all who arrived since then. It does not expire, Elizabeth, until 2018.
PRANN: So is that the only reason why this is controversial, or are there other reasons?
LA JEUNESSE: No. Well because the administration is currently we are relocating 10,000 Syrian refugees, upping that number to 65,000 annually as proposed by candidate Hillary Clinton, will be controversial. Secondly, there’s still no way to do a legitimate background check because of the conditions in Syria. And three, critics consider TPS a free pass to legal status because enrollees can get permanent residency if they marry a citizen or green card holder. There are currently 300,000 immigrants living in the US from 12 countries given TPS status, for example Salvadorans because of an earthquake in 2001, Hondurans because of a Hurricane Mitch in 1998. They still are not required to go home. Secretary Johnson said this is about compassion and it is warranted because of the conflict there. This is likely to be expanded over the next several years, Elizabeth, and the message is people will be allowed to stay, probably indefinitely.