Jayapal, Durbin, Schakowsky, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Designate Palestinian Territories for Temporary Protected Status or Authorize Deferred Enforcement Departure for Palestinians in U.S.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today led 103 of their colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden calling on his Administration to designate the Palestinian territories for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and/or authorize Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Palestinians present in the United States.  TPS and DED offer temporary relief from removal and work authorization for eligible foreign nationals already in the United States who are unable to return safely to their home country.  

“In light of ongoing armed conflict, Palestinians already in the United States should not be forced to return to the Palestinian territories, consistent with President Biden’s stated commitment to protecting Palestinian civilians,” the lawmakers wrote.

Following the horrific October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas and Israel’s ensuing military response, conditions in the Palestinian territories have greatly deteriorated.  According to reports from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of November 6, at least 10,000 Palestinians have been killed.  This includes more than 4,100 children, which, according to Save the Children, is more than the number of children killed in all of the world’s armed conflicts on an annual basis since 2019.  The United Nations reports that almost 1.5 million of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million have been displaced.   Thousands are unable to access clean water and nutrition; access to medical care has become increasingly difficult, with some health facilities in Gaza hit by bombardment and many others crippled by a lack of fuel for electricity.   And in the West Bank, unrest and settler violence have resulted in the deaths of 149 Palestinians and the forcible displacement of hundreds more.   

“Given these conditions, it is no surprise that the U.S. Department of State extended a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Gaza due to ‘terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict’ and a Level 3 Travel Advisory for the West Bank earlier this month for terrorism and civil unrest,” the lawmakers wrote.  “Providing TPS and/or authorizing DED would protect Palestinians in the United States from being forced to return to these clearly dangerous conditions.”

The lawmakers’ letter continues, “U.S. Department of State statistics indicate that 7,241 nonimmigrant visas were issued to individuals holding Palestinian Authority (PA) travel documents in 2022, the most recent year for which such data is available.  While the number of non-immigrant visas issued cannot provide an exact approximation of the number of Palestinians that would be eligible for TPS or DED, it makes clear that the number of beneficiaries would be small, while the benefit could be lifesaving.  TPS or DED would enable Palestinians currently present in the U.S., including students, tourists, and workers, to be protected from a dangerous return to their homeland while affording them the ability to remain safely in the U.S. and to work legally to support themselves and their families.”

The lawmakers’ letter concludes, “As such, we urge your Administration to designate the Palestinian territories for TPS and/or to authorize DED for Palestinians in the United States without delay.”

Along with Jayapal and Schakowsky, today’s letter was signed by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Becca Balint (VT-At Large), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), Sean Casten (IL-06), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-16), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), John Garamendi (CA-08), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL) (IL-04), Daniel S. Goldman (NY-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-08), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), John Larson (CT-01), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Doris Matsui (CA-07), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Delia C. Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Adam Smith (WA-09), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Eric Swalwell (CA-14), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Susan Wild (PA-07), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).

Along with Durbin, today’s letter was signed by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Laphonza Butler D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Gary Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Today’s letter is endorsed by the following organizations: Arab American Institute, African Communities Together, American Civil Liberties Union, American Friends Service Committee, American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Muslim Empowerment Network, Americans for Peace Now, America’s Voice, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Church World Service, Climate Refugees, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Communities United for Status & Protection, Every Campus A Refuge, Friends United Meeting, Immigration Hub, Indivisible, International Refugee Assistance Project, J Street, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, MPower Change Action Fund, National Network for Arab American Communities, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, OneAmerica, People’s Action, Refugees International, TPS-DED Administrative Advocacy Coalition, T’ruah, and UndocuBlack Network. Full text of today’s letter is available here.


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