Through this Notice, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) is extending the designation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months from March 18, 2014 through September 17, 2015.
The extension allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through September 17, 2015, so long as they otherwise continue to meet the eligibility requirements for TPS. The Secretary has determined that an extension is warranted because the conditions in Somalia that prompted the TPS designation continue to be met. There continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in Somalia based upon ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in that country that prevent Somalis who
have TPS from safely returning.
Through this Notice, DHS also sets forth procedures necessary for nationals of Somalia (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) to re-register for TPS and to apply for renewal of their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Re-registration is limited to persons who have previously registered for TPS under the designation of Somalia and whose applications have been granted. Certain nationals of Somalia (or aliens having no nationality who last
habitually resided in Somalia) who have not previously applied for TPS may be eligible to apply under the late initial registration provisions, if they meet:
(1) At least one of the late initial filing criteria and (2) all TPS eligibility criteria (including continuous residence in the United States since May 1, 2012, and continuous physical presence in the United States since September 18, 2012).
For individuals who have already been granted TPS under the Somalia designation, the 60-day re-registration period runs from October 31, 2013 through December 30, 2013. USCIS will issue new EADs with a September 17, 2015 expiration date to eligible Somali TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs under this extension.
DATES: The 18-month extension of the TPS designation of Somalia is effective March 18, 2014, and will remain in effect through September 17, 2015. The 60-day re-registration period runs from October 31, 2013 through December 30, 2013.
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a country designated for TPS under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), or to persons without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country.
During the TPS designation period, TPS beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the United States, may not be removed, and may obtain work authorization, so long as they continue to meet the requirements of TPS.
TPS beneficiaries may also be granted travel authorization as a matter of discretion.
The granting of TPS does not lead to permanent resident status.
When the Secretary terminates a country's TPS designation, beneficiaries return to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS, if any (unless that status has since expired or been terminated), or to any other lawfully obtained immigration status they received while registered for TPS.
When was Somalia designated for TPS?
On September 16, 1991, the Attorney General designated Somalia for TPS based on extraordinary and temporary conditions resulting from armed conflict. See 56 FR 46804 (Sept. 16, 1991). The initial designation was extended nine times based on determinations that the conditions warranting the designation continued to be met. On September 4, 2001, the Attorney General both extended Somalia's TPS designation for a tenth time and redesignated Somalia for TPS. See 66 FR 46288 (Sept. 4, 2001). Under the 2001 redesignation, the Attorney General revised the date from which applicants had to show they had been ``continuously residing''
in and ``continuously physically present'' in the United States to September 4, 2001. Somalia's TPS designation was subsequently extended nine additional times, including on May 1, 2012, when the Secretary both extended and redesignated Somalia for TPS. Under the 2012 redesignation, the Secretary revised the ``continuous residence'' date to May 1, 2012 and the ``continuous physical presence'' date to September 18, 2012. See 77 FR 25723 (May 1, 2012). This announcement is the first extension of TPS for Somalia since the 2012 extension
What authority does the Secretary of Homeland Security have to extend the designation of Somalia for TPS?
Section 244(b)(1) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1), authorizes the Secretary, after consultation with appropriate Government agencies, to designate a foreign state (or part thereof) for TPS.\1\ The Secretary may then grant TPS to eligible nationals of that foreign state (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in that state). See INA section 244(a)(1)(A), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(a)(1)(A).
Why is the Secretary extending the TPS designation for Somalia through September 17, 2015?
Over the past year, DHS and the Department of State (DOS) have continued to review conditions in Somalia. Based on this review and after consulting with DOS, the Secretary has determined that an 18- month extension is warranted because the conditions that led to the 2012 redesignation of Somalia for TPS--(1) ongoing armed conflict and (2) extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent Somali nationals from returning to Somalia in safety--continue to exist.
Somalia ended its 8-year transitional period of governance in September 2012 with the formation of a new and more representative federal parliament and that parliament's indirect election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President. The Somaliland and Puntland regions, in the north of Somalia, are relatively stable, and the administrations of each are able to provide some degree of social services, including minimal law enforcement. President Hassan Sheikh's Government of Somalia (GOS) has prioritized security and peace among its ``Six
Pillar Policy'' framework of the new administration. Though the country is now transitioning to more permanent governing institutions, the GOS still retains little control of the territory and has little capacity to govern beyond
Mogadishu. No effective political parties yet exist. Two decades of conflict in Somalia and the country's most severe drought in 60 years have led to what has been referred to as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. A sustained military campaign against al-Shabaab throughout 2012 resulted in large numbers of civilian deaths and displacement. During the same period, targeted attacks by al- Shabaab, using suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices, resulted in significant civilian causalities. Al-Shabaab still controls large rural areas in southern Somalia and as far north as Puntland, and denies both the Somali government and humanitarian organizations access to people in those areas. Although it no longer maintains an open presence in the capital, Al Shabaab has continued to carry out coordinated asymmetric attacks in Mogadishu in 2013.
A severe drought and famine that lasted from July 2011 to February 2012 is estimated to have resulted in approximately 258,000 deaths. About half, or some 133,000 of the Somalis who perished, were children under 5 years of age, according to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agricultural Organization. Recovery from the famine has been slow. Internal displacement remained a major problem during 2012 as hundreds of thousands of people continued to be displaced by fighting, insecurity, and malnutrition. Estimates of internally displaced
persons at the end of 2012 were as high as 1.36 million. Displacement resulted from conflict as fighting escalated in Mogadishu, Kismayo and the Afgoye corridor at various points in 2012. An October 2012 flood in Beletweyn-Hiiraan in central Somalia affected 60,000 and resulted in 39,000 people receiving shelter and survival aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross. During the first quarter of 2013 an additional 14,000 individuals were displaced. As of May 2013, in Mogadishu alone there were 369,000 IDPs.
Humanitarian access and assistance remains restricted inside parts of Somalia due to ongoing conflict, al-Shabaab prohibitions on international aid organizations, insecurity, and diversion of aid. Somalia's displaced population has been victim to theft, extortion, and the threat of forced evictions by abusive groups controlling IDP sites. These threats combined with lack of infrastructure and logistical challenges have caused difficulties in protecting vulnerable IDP populations. During 2012, nine humanitarian personnel were killed, one was wounded, and four were kidnapped. Access to aid gradually improved during 2012, in limited urban areas, but the country presents a challenging operating environment as deliberate obstruction by groups continues to restrict access to humanitarian assistance and create high risks for aid workers.
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military launched successful offensives against al-Shabaab in 2011. By August 2011, AMISOM and TFG forces had expelled al-Shabaab from the capital city of Mogadishu. Kenyan forces took control of the major port city,
Kismayo, from al-Shabaab in September 2012. A sustained military campaign against al-Shabaab throughout 2012 resulted in large numbers of civilian deaths and displacement. Targeted attacks by al-Shabaab using suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices resulted in significant civilian causalities. Reliable estimates of nationwide civilian causalities are not currently available. Between January and late September 2012, four hospitals in Mogadishu treated 5,219 casualties, with 118 dying from weapon-related injuries.
Somalis who have sought to move to the relatively more secure regions of Puntland and Somaliland have in some cases been expelled or prosecuted, as they are viewed as outsiders. In al-Shabaab controlled territory, they are at risk of running afoul of al-Shabaab imposed edicts on behavior or of conscription of minors into al-Shabaab forces. Despite initial security sector improvements and restructuring, the GOS currently does not have the capability to provide improved rule of law for Somali citizens.
Additionally, Somalis have fled to neighboring countries in an attempt to find refuge. In July 2012, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced that the population exodus from Somalia had exceeded one million, with refugees having fled mainly to Kenya (with approximately 535,000 registered Somali refugees at the end of July 2012), Yemen, and Ethiopia. As of January 2013, there were approximately 1.1 million refugees outside of Somalia and 33,000 asylum seekers worldwide. One million Somalis, or 14 percent of the total
population, are experiencing acute food insecurity. The IDPs amount to 60 percent of the total population experiencing acute food insecurity. It is estimated that 2.7 million Somalis are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Authorities in the Transitional Federal Government and Government of Somalia (TFG/GOS), Somaliland, and Puntland administrations have provided some protection and assistance to IDPs, although the response in TFG/GOS areas has been largely ineffective as a consequence of limitations on resources, capacity,
and poor coordination.
Gender-based violence, including sexual assault of female IDPs, has remained a problem. In Mogadishu and surrounding areas between January and November 2012, almost one-third of the recorded incidents were against children. Many cases involved assaults by armed men in uniform.
In many parts of Somalia, including Mogadishu, public security is unstable. The capacity of the GOS to process, accommodate, and provide assistance to returnees is extremely limited. It is unable to assist or monitor the welfare of IDP or refugee returnees to communities still controlled by al-Shabaab. Returnees may be more vulnerable than the average Somali if they are unable to reestablish themselves in their clan structure or community of origin. Based upon this review and after consultation with appropriate Government agencies, the Secretary finds that:
The conditions that prompted the May 1, 2012 redesignation of Somalia for TPS continue to be met. See INA section 244(b)(3)(A) and (C), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(3)(A) and (C).
There continue to be an ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Somalia that prevent Somali nationals from returning to Somalia in safety. See INA section 244(b)(1)(A) and (C), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1)(A) and (C).
It is not contrary to the national interest of the United States to permit Somalis (and persons who have no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) who meet the eligibility requirements of TPS to remain in the United States temporarily. See INA section 244(b)(1)(C), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1)(C).
The designation of Somalia for TPS should be extended for an additional 18-month period from March 18, 2014 through September 17, 2015. See INA section 244(b)(3)(C), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(3)(C).
There are approximately 400 current Somalia TPS beneficiaries who are expected to be eligible to re-register for TPS under the extension.