DHS grants temporary legal status to Myanmar citizens in US

DHS grants temporary legal status to Myanmar citizens in US
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The Biden administration will offer temporary status to people from Myanmar living in the U.S., its latest move responding to the February coup in the country.

“Due to the military coup and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians, the people of Burma are suffering a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in many parts of the country,” Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue O'Rourke slams White House's treatment of Haitian migrants: 'Didn't have to happen' Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies MORE said in a release, using an alternate name for the country.

“After a thorough review of this dire situation, I have designated Burma for Temporary Protected Status so that Burmese nationals and habitual residents may remain temporarily in the United States,” he added. 

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Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is offered to those who have left amid unrest or disasters in their country.

DHS cited “continuing violence, pervasive arbitrary detentions, the use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters, and intimidation of the people of Burma” as factors in extending the status to people of Myanmar who arrived in the U.S. by March 11.

The designation allows people from Myanmar to remain in the U.S. for 18 months, and the government estimates about 1,600 people may be eligible to apply.

The decision to provide a safe haven for people from Myanmar in the U.S. follows growing international alarm at increasing and deadly violence in the country following the military coup that took place Feb. 1. 

The country's military dissolved the democratically elected government, imposed internet blackouts, arrested political officials and have shot and have reportedly killed at least 40 unarmed civilians in protests that have taken place in opposition to the coup.  

The Biden administration imposed sanctions on nearly a dozen officials it associates with the coup and three entities associated with the military. 

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The United Nations Security Council issued a joint statement on Thursday condemning the violence against peaceful protesters and stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes.

“The Security Council reaffirms its support for the people of Myanmar and its strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar,” the statement read. 

The move follows the Biden administration’s recent decision to also offer TPS status to some 300,000 Venezuelans living in the U.S.

“The suffering and the ongoing turmoil the Venezuelan people have endured is well documented,” a senior official said when the decision was announced Monday.

“This designation is due to the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent the nationals there, if you are here, from returning safely,” the official added.

The Biden administration is also under pressure to re-designate the same status to Haitians living in the U.S.

“Haiti’s protracted political crisis exacerbates the severe and prolonged humanitarian needs sparked by the 2010 earthquake. While the Government of Haiti has been able to receive limited numbers of Haitian nationals removed from the United States, it lacks the capacity to provide the needed reception and care for tens of thousands of returnees,” Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden, don't punish India Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict MORE (D-N.J.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Democrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit MORE (R-Fla.) wrote in a Friday letter to Mayorkas.

Laura Kelly contributed.