WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration said on Thursday it would allow some 1,250 Yemenis to remain in the United States for at least another 18 months under protected status as war and a humanitarian crisis rage in their native country.
Yemenis in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be able to re-register for an extension of their status through March 3, 2020, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The status grants beneficiaries the ability to legally work while they are in the United States.
"After carefully reviewing conditions in Yemen with interagency partners, (DHS) Secretary (Kirstjen) Nielsen determined that the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Yemen's current designation for TPS continue to exist," the statement said.
But Nielsen stopped short of "re-designating" Yemen's TPS status, which means that it will continue to benefit only Yemenis who have been in the United States since early 2017 or before, and not those who arrived afterward. The administration made a similar decision for Syrian beneficiaries of the protected status in January.
The Trump administration has shown a deep skepticism toward the temporary protected status programme, announcing its end for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan since President Donald Trump took office last year.
The administration's decision on Yemen would leave "many Yemenis in the U.S. in legal limbo," Scott Paul of Oxfam America, a humanitarian group, said in a statement. "Continuing to grant TPS will not solve the crisis but is the least we can do for the Yemenis who have arrived in the U.S. seeking safety and protection."
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by James Dalgleish and Susan Thomas)