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Brown, Dean, 41 Members of Congress Urge Temporary Protected Status for Ethiopians

“The conditions in Ethiopia are urgent and egregious and we call upon the administration to do its part”

For over a year, international non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia have documented severe famine conditions, sexual violence as a weapon of war, crumbling infrastructure, and more.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) and Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04) led a letter with 41 Members calling on the Biden Administration to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ethiopians fleeing the ongoing civil war. 

TPS authority stems from the same deeply held principles that underpin the U.S. refugee and asylum systems—that the United States will not return people to situations where their lives or freedom will be threatened. A country is typically designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

For over a year, international non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia have documented severe famine conditions, sexual violence as a weapon of war, crumbling infrastructure, and more. On March 7, 2022, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reported even more rapidly deteriorating conditions since late 2021, including widespread “rapes and lethal air strikes.” In March 2022, the U.S. State Department re-upped its highest-level do not travel advisory due to “armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.

“While we commend the administration’s swift work to safeguard Ukrainians and Afghans in the United States from war and humanitarian disaster, we are deeply concerned that TPS has not yet been designated for Ethiopia given the ongoing civil war,” the Members wrote. “The conditions in Ethiopia are urgent and egregious and we call upon the administration to do its part to protect Ethiopians in the United States from deportation by designating Ethiopia for TPS.”

Joining Brown and Dean are; Reps. Donald S. Beyer (VA-08), Jamal Bowman (NY-16), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Jim Himes (CT-04), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), John B. Larson (CT-01), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Grace Meng (NY-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Jim P. McGovern (MA-03), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Donald M. Payne, Jr (NJ-10), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Dina Titus (NV-01), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and Cori Bush (MO-01).

Read the full letter below.

April 28, 2022

Dear President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and Secretary Blinken,

We write to you today to request that you issue an immediate 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ethiopia. While we commend the administration’s swift work to safeguard Ukrainians and Afghans in the United States from war and humanitarian disaster, we are deeply concerned that TPS has not yet been designated for Ethiopia given the ongoing civil war.

TPS authority stems from the same deeply held principles that underpin the U.S. refugee and asylum systems—that the United States will not return people to situations where their lives or freedom will be threatened. In addition to humanitarian protection, TPS provides many benefits to the United States. It keeps families and communities stabilized, ensuring they can remain together and support themselves. TPS is a boom to the U.S. economy, adding workers—including essential workers during this pandemic—and new businesses. It also plays an important role on the national stage, setting an example for the world on human rights—as this administration just did with Ukraine and Afghanistan—as well as increasing remittances which can serve as unofficial foreign aid to assist people, families, and economies in countries in crisis.

For over a year, international non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia have documented severe famine conditions, sexual violence as a weapon of war, crumbling infrastructure, and more. According to USAID, about 7 million people in northern Ethiopia face severe acute food insecurity and 8.1 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. We are particularly concerned over media reports of drone warfare against civilians and vital infrastructure, a continued escalation of violence that deepens this human rights and humanitarian crisis. On March 7, 2022, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reported even more rapidly deteriorating conditions since late 2021, including widespread “rapes and lethal air strikes.”

In March 2022, the U.S. State Department re-upped its highest-level do not travel advisory due to “armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.” The next day, the State Department withdrew all non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members from Ethiopia due to violence and severe supply shortages. While Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian government declared a humanitarian truce on March 24, 2022, only a tiny amount of food aid has been allowed to reach Tigray since then. With up to 900,000 people in Tigray facing famine conditions, and the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in 40 years threatening famine in other parts of the country, the United States must not return anyone to such conditions and must provide protection through TPS designation.

A country is typically designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. Due to the atrocities, we have witnessed within Ukraine and Afghanistan, the TPS designation for these countries will save the lives of countless men and women. We have witnessed, extra-judicial killings, massacres, gender-based violence, and forced displacement documented in Ethiopia. The people of Ethiopia living in the United States deserve the same protection from the dangers of returning to a war-torn country.

As we applaud the administration’s swift work in designating TPS for Ukraine and later Afghanistan, we are concerned at the lack of new designations for majority-Black and African countries. The conditions in Ethiopia are urgent and egregious and we call upon the administration to do its part to protect Ethiopians in the United States from deportation by designating Ethiopia for TPS.

Sincerely,

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