WASHINGTON [07/18/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) led 21 of her Senate colleagues—including fellow Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar—in urging the Trump administration to extend humanitarian protections for hundreds of Somali nationals who have taken refuge in Minnesota and other states to escape civil war, human rights abuses and violence in their home country.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Smith and her Senate colleagues pressed the Trump Administration to extend the protections, known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), for the almost 500 Somali nationals living in the United States. Without the extension of TPS—scheduled to expire in September—those Somali nationals who are currently living in the United States would have to return to the extraordinarily dangerous conditions in Somalia, or find refuge in another country.
“We believe [Somalia’s] conditions continue to meet the standards for TPS extension, and failing to extend this protection could subject returnees to unnecessary violence, human rights abuses, and possibly death,” wrote Sen. Smith and her colleagues. “These conditions continue to persist, therefore extension and re-designation of Somalia for TPS is necessary and justified.”
The senators pointed to a rise in abuses by al-Shabaab and clan militias, including murder, rape, and forcing children to become soldiers as evidence that TPS for Somali nationals continues to be warranted.
The deadline for the Trump Administration re-designate Somalia for TPS is July 19. Minnesota is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the United States, with close to 80,000 Somalis living in the state.
Joining Sen. Smith on the letter were Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Doug Jones (D-Ala.).