In its short tenure the Biden administration has extended a special reprieve for five different groups of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. The most recent was renewed a few days ago for thousands of people from Yemen, the Middle Eastern Islamic nation well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. Officially, the provisional amnesty is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian measure designed to shield undocumented aliens from deportation during emergencies. It is supposed to be a short-term solution for foreign nationals that do not quality as refugees but cannot immediately return home because of difficulties caused by factors such as violence, natural disasters, or political and economic instability. TPS, which is typically granted in 18-month increments, not only protects foreign nationals from deportation it also allows them to work in the U.S.
The Obama administration went crazy with TPS, renewing it for tens of thousands of Hondurans and Nicaraguans more than a decade and a half after a hurricane hit the Central American nations, prolonging it for Africans two years after originally issuing it due to Ebola, and repeatedly restoring it for tens of thousands of Haitians years after an earthquake struck the island. During its two terms the Obama administration never missed an opportunity to offer illegal immigrants reprieve, using inclement weather in the U.S., a virus, natural disasters and tainted water in an American city to extend the perk. Nationals of Yemen have been protected by both Democrats and Republicans, receiving TPS over “ongoing armed conflict” under Obama and two extensions under Trump. A few days ago, the Biden administration renewed the TPS for Yemenis yet again, protecting approximately 2,180 people.
“Yemen continues to experience worsening humanitarian and economic conditions that prevent individuals from safely returning to their homes,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement announcing the “re-designation.” He added that the administration “will continue to protect and offer these individuals a place of residency temporarily in the United States.” The measure will protect Yemenis who previously benefitted from TPS through March 2023 and will allow about 480 additional Yemenis to qualify. It marks the fifth TPS extension issued by the Biden administration since taking office this year. In January TPS was extended for 6,700 Syrians and 1,800 additional Syrians were allowed to file applications for the 18-month reprieve. In early March 320,000 Venezuelans received TPS for 18 months and in mid-March Burmese nationals got it for the same period after a military coup and security forces’ violence against civilians. Later in March the administration extended TPS yet again for more than 100,000 Haitians over the economic crisis that persists more than a decade after the earthquake that provoked the original TPS.
Yemen was first designated for TPS by the Obama administration in 2015 after a northern opposition group called Houthis initiated a violent, territorial expansion across the country and forced Yemeni government leaders to exile in Saudi Arabia. When it expired, the Obama administration extended it another 18 months on the “dual bases of ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.” When that second extension expired, the Trump administration renewed it twice, first under Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in 2018 and again under acting Secretary Chad Wolf. The latest extension is warranted because, although it is in its seventh year, the protracted conflict has shown no sign of abating and fighting between Houthi and government forces continues, according to a Federal Register announcement issued this month.
Yemen is a hotbed of terrorism that serves as the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Nevertheless, shortly after getting elected President Biden revoked the terrorist designation of a Yemen-based militant group, a move that was followed by a fat “humanitarian assistance” check from American taxpayers. The Federal Register bulletin announcing the group’s (Ansarallah, also known as Partisans of God) terrorist classification says it has committed or has attempted to commit, or poses a significant risk of committing, or has participated in training to commit, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. The international community strongly opposed classifying Ansarallah as a terrorist entity, asserting it would come with repercussions for humanitarian operations. Days after rescinding the terrorist designation, the Biden administration gave Yemen $191 million in assistance.