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Letter to Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Pompeo - Re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Yemen

Dear Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Pompeo:

In less than one month, this administration will decide the fate of nearly 1,200 Yemeni nationals who have built new lives that depend upon Temporary Protected Status for their continued livelihood, safety, and survival. We write to strongly urge you to both extend and re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen before the deadline on July 5, 2018.

Yemen remains in a constant state of war. For this reason, TPS for Yemen is not only deserved, but warranted under the law. The outbreak of war, which was the main reason for TPS designation in September 2015,[1] is not only ongoing today but is reaching new levels of violence throughout the country. The United Nations and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project has documented thousands of civilian deaths, with upward of 3,000 persons killed in 2018 alone.[2] All parties involved in the war are indiscriminately targeting civilians and vital civilian infrastructure, including residences, medical centers, and transportation networks.[3]

Moreover, the war's widespread destruction has caused the world's worst humanitarian crisis, an extraordinary and temporary condition that justified the extension and re-designation of TPS in 2017.[4] More than 22 million Yemenis--roughly three-quarters of the population--need some form of humanitarian assistance. At least 8.4 million are severely food insecure, and nearly every governorate in the country is at crisis levels for impending famine.[5] The civil war has caused nearly 3 million Yemenis to be internally displaced, the majority of which have now been displaced for over one year, and nearly 200,000 have left for refuge across the world.[6] Preventable diseases are rampant, with the international community recording over 1 million cases of cholera and the spread of diphtheria and measles across the country.[7]

The case for extending TPS for the 18-month maximum allowed by the law, and re-designating TPS for eligible Yemenis, is statutorily clear. The armed conflict renders the safe return of roughly 1,200 Yemeni TPS holders in the United States unfeasible and inhumane. The humanitarian crisis represents a "substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions" for Yemenis, and the civil war and loss of territory and vital infrastructure renders the Yemeni government "unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return" of Yemenis (8 U.S.C. §1254a).

Extending and re-designating TPS for Yemen is also clearly in the interest of America's national security. Since March 2015, the United States has been involved in a regional military campaign in support of the internationally recognized government and seeks, for the stability of Yemen and its neighbors, a negotiated settlement to the conflict and an amelioration of its resulting humanitarian crisis. The sudden return of 1,200 Yemenis will not only further undermine the international humanitarian response in Yemen, but also undermine America's standing amongst our allies and give antagonistic states and non-state actors in the region a needless propaganda boon.

Current TPS recipients from Yemen living in safely in the United States have contributed greatly to the social and economic welfare of our communities. Failing to extend TPS for Yemenis who have it and re-designate it for eligible individuals will put many men, women, children, and families in jeopardy and do much to undermine the security of the American homeland.

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