New DHS Secretary John Kelly Should Act Swiftly to Clean up TPS Mess

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 19, 2017

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security quietly announced that, effective March 18, 2017, temporary protected status (TPS) for Somalis would extend another 18 months through September 17, 2018. TPS status includes employment authorization documents, and is de facto permanent residency. Moreover, TPS is granted to aliens regardless of their immigration status at the time it’s announced.

Gen. Kelly swamp draining should include stricter TPS oversight.

Rolling over TPS for Somalis when the Obama administration has one foot out the door is a slap in the face to Americans with valid security concerns. Somali refugee and Ohio State University student Abdul Razak Ali Artan attacked 11 people on the campus last November when he drove his car into a group of pedestrians, and then began stabbing bystanders with his knife.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website: The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.”

Such extensions to nations like Somalia, Liberia and Honduras are automatically granted regardless of how long ago their internal conflicts may have ended. Honduras, for example, first received TPS in 1999 because of Hurricane Mitch, obviously long ago past. See the complete list of TPS countries here.

TPS is bad public policy, and the new incoming Department of Homeland Security Secretary, General John Kelly, should examine better ways to provide meaningful relief to nationals that would be legitimately threatened if sent home. But to give TPS to an unlawful immigrant, a tourist or a temporary visa holder, as the current regulations provide for, is preposterous.

Gen. Kelly once called D.C. domestic politics “a cesspool.” Immigration in general and TPS specifically should be at the top of Kelly’s good-intentions-gone-bad list clean up.

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