Washington DC – Two Democratic lawmakers are circulating a letter in Congress urging the Biden administration to protect the Lebanese in the United States from deportation on humanitarian grounds given the multifaceted crises unfolding in the Middle Eastern country.
Representatives of Congress Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell, both from Michigan, home to a large Lebanese community, are leading the message calling for Lebanon to be classified in Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
This designation will allow Lebanese citizens on temporary visas, including students and visitors, to live and work legally in the United States.
The draft letter, seen by Al Jazeera, says Lebanon “is not in a position to accept the safe return of its citizens at this time.”
country passes shortage In basic commodities, including fuel and medicine, inflation escalates. The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value since 2019.
Lebanon was also without a full job Government For more than a year amid a debilitating political deadlock. Acting Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned last year after a harbor explosion Beirut shook and killed hundreds.
“We hear every day from our residents and family members about dire conditions in Lebanon, and we firmly believe that the United States must act to help the Lebanese people in their time of need,” the letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorcas report.
“Given the scale of this crisis, we urge you to exercise your executive discretion to provide protection to Lebanese citizens who are currently in the United States, by designating Lebanon in Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and to allow those affected to find safe haven in our country. “.
TPS and DED are similar designations. TPS is issued by the Department of Homeland Security and DED by the White House.
The letter states that COVID-19, the Beirut explosion, economic collapse and political impasse have combined to create one of the worst humanitarian crises in Lebanon.
Tlaib and Dingell collect signatures from fellow lawmakers before presenting the document to the administration.
“Given the sheer scale of the crisis, it is imperative that the administration take immediate steps to exercise its discretion — as a matter of national interest — to allow Lebanese citizens to remain in the United States at this time, by classifying Lebanon under the Temporary Protected System, or DED,” the draft letter states. .
He also urges Biden to use all the tools at his disposal to welcome the displaced Lebanese due to the deteriorating situation.
The United States has always provided shelter for those seeking refuge from disaster. Now is the time to continue this tradition and stand by the Lebanese in their time of need.
More than 80 lawmakers have done the same the demand From the Trump administration after the port explosion in Beirut last year.
Separately from the congressional effort, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is preparing a petition for a formal application for PTS certification for Lebanon from the administration.
Abed Ayoub, ADC’s legal director, told Al Jazeera that the petition has so far had the support of more than 100 humanitarian, civic and religious organizations.
He said that the economic collapse, political crisis and possible civil war make Lebanon an ideal candidate for the temporary protection regime.
Up to 28,000 people can get relief through the appointment, according to the ADC. Ayoub said TPS will make a huge difference in people’s lives.
“It provides a safe haven and opportunity for Lebanese citizens who are currently in the United States, so they will not be forced to return to Lebanon during this period of crisis,” he said.
Yemen and Syria are currently classified under temporary protection status due to their civil wars. Status is granted for 18 months but is granted renewable At the discretion of the US administration.
Ayoub said Washington should look at Lebanon from a humanitarian perspective.
“Look at the stories and look at the people, look at the pictures of what this country has been through over the past few years,” Job said.
Lebanon is teetering on the brink of complete collapse. The government of Lebanon failed its people. There is no infrastructure in this country at the moment to sustain the community.”