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Biden administration renews Temporary Protected Status for Syria

By Oxfam & American Relief Coalition for Syria
On July 17, Oxfam participated in a lobby day in Washington, D.C., along with American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS), Syrian American Council, Americans for a Free Syria, and Citizens for a Secure and Safe America, to advocate for the renewal and re-designation of Syrian TPS Photo: American Relief Coalition for Syria

The decision means Syrians in the US like Nada and Monzer can go to sleep tonight without fear of deportation.

The Biden administration announced today that it will renew lifesaving protections for Syrians living in the US.

The decision to extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syria means nearly 7,000 Syrians with TPS can stay in the US without fear of deportation. It also means an additional 7,000 Syrians in the US are now eligible to apply for this temporary status, which was created to protect people from forced return to dangerous conditions in their home countries.

Oxfam and its partners, including the American Relief Coalition for Syria, have been advocating for the rights of Syrians with TPS—people like Nada and Monzer. Their journeys vary widely but they share one experience: TPS offered them a lifeline when they had nowhere else to go.

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Photo: American Relief Coalition for Syria

Nada: "Renewing TPS is a great step"

Nada is an art educator, visual artist, and museum curator who lives in New York with her two children. She works with folklore societies, refugee communities, and museum associations around the country—using her art to tell stories, connect people, and heal trauma.

“Syrians are a beautiful mosaic,” she says. “We are a diverse group of people with different strengths, education levels, religions, and cultures. But with all of our differences, we all share the same desires: safety, health, and freedom.”

Shortly after the war in Syria broke out in 2011, Nada began working with a variety of non-governmental organizations and private entities to help feed thousands of Syrians who had fled to live in refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey.

In June 2013, Nada visited her brother with her son and daughter in San Diego. During their stay, news from home turned bleak. She learned from relatives that the Syrian government was looking for her; she was not welcome back because of her volunteer work. They were stranded in the US—but not for long.

Nada learned about Temporary Protected Status and quickly applied for her and her children. She was accepted, and soon after moved to Michigan. There, Nada and other Syrians established the Syrian American Rescue Network (SARN), which helps Syrian refugees resettle. Through SARN, Nada has helped resettle about 2,000 Syrian refugees in Michigan and surrounding states.

“Being in America made me and my son and daughter feel safe, away from tyrants and the dictatorship we witnessed in Syria,” Nada said. “Renewing TPS is a great step, but we also need a more permanent solution that helps us Syrians who escaped war, detention, and torture.”

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Photo: American Relief Coalition for Syria

Monzer: "I felt like I started to belong"

Monzer came to the US as a teenager. Now he’s at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics—well on his way to achieving his dream to become a dentist.

“I have been living and studying in the US since I came here at the end of 2012,” Monzer said. “TPS allowed me to obtain a Bachelor of Sciences in Evolutionary Biology and to work, volunteer, and live a productive life—without the fear of being deported back to Syria where I face an extremely dangerous situation.”

Unlike some students who spend their summers off, he has advocated as part of the National TPS Alliance for his fellow Syrians as well as people in other vulnerable communities around the world to get TPS extended.

Adjusting to life in the US hasn’t been easy. But his biggest source of satisfaction are the new friends he made while working on getting the House of Representatives in 2019 to pass legislation that would give Dreamers in the US a path to citizenship. He loved that he was able to work with such a diverse and committed group of people.

“Those people became like family to me,” he says. “I felt like I started to belong.”

These stories were originally published on the website of Oxfam's partner American Relief Coalition for Syria and have been edited for space and clarity.

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