- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Obama administration Thursday announced it will grant legal status and halt deportations for potentially thousands of citizens of Yemen, saying the security situation on the ground there is so bad that the U.S. has a moral obligation to protect people.

Applicants must undergo a security screening and must prove they were in the U.S. as of Sept. 3 in order to qualify. They will win an 18-month reprieve from being kicked out of the U.S.

“Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible,” the Homeland Security Department said in a statement announcing the move.

The department predicted between 500 and 2,000 people are likely to qualify for the stay of deportation.

The official program is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and it’s a program normally used for countries that have suffered massive natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes, or armed conflicts.



It is supposed to give other countries a chance to recover without having to worry about an influx of more citizens returning from the U.S. The Obama administration has used it for Ebola-stricken countries and for others hit by terrorism and rebellions. Syria, for example, was added earlier this year.

Those granted TPS are also given work permits allowing them to legally hold jobs, and the department will not deport anyone in that status.

That makes it similar in effect to the deportation amnesty President Obama announced last year for illegal immigrant parents — though a federal court has halted that program.

The initial grant is for 18 months, but TPS is often renewed. Honduras has been on the list for more than 16 years.

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