The United States government announced on Friday that thousands of Ethiopian immigrants who arrived in the United States before October 20, 2022, are now eligible for deportation protections and work permits for 18 months amid a devastating war in Ethiopia, which has killed thousands of people and displaced millions others.
Ethiopians can now apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), an immigration program that allows beneficiaries to live and work in the United States legally when their countries face natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies or deadly conflicts.
“The United States recognizes the ongoing armed conflict and the extraordinary and temporary conditions engulfing Ethiopia, and DHS is committed to providing temporary protection to those in need,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement. “Ethiopian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to conflict-related violence and a humanitarian crisis involving severe food shortages, flooding, drought, and displacement, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson Angelo Fernandez said that an estimated 26,700 Ethiopian immigrants in the United States are expected to qualify for TPS if they meet eligibility requirement and pass background checks.
In a statement, DHS wrote that a country may be designated for TPS “when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
“This designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ethiopia that prevent Ethiopian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ethiopia, from returning to Ethiopia safely,” it said.
DHS added, “Due to the armed conflict, civilians are at risk of conflict-related violence, including attacks, killings, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence; ethnicity-based detentions; and human rights violations and abuses. Extraordinary and temporary conditions that further prevent nationals from returning in safety include a humanitarian crisis involving severe food insecurity, flooding, drought, large-scale displacement, and the impact of disease outbreaks.
“This will be Ethiopia’s first designation for TPS. Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since October 20, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after October 20, 2022 will not be eligible for TPS under this designation. Ethiopia’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.”