DEARBORN — As Lebanon’s humanitarian crisis worsens, some lawmakers are seeking protection against removal for the Lebanese nationals in the U.S.
Last month, U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) spoke to The Arab American News about a letter they were circulating among colleagues in the House to urge the Biden administration to designate Lebanon for Temporary Protective Status (TPS). That letter has now been sent to the administration with 70 total cosigners.
Tlaib, who has a background in immigration law, said TPS can allow someone here on a non-immigrant visa or non-permanent residency, such as a student, a visitor or someone with a business visa, to have stability and not have to worry about visas expiring or meeting deadlines and other issues and to have safe haven.
The letter has the influential co-backing of House Judiciary Committee Chair Jarrold Nadler (D-NY) as well as the chair of the subcommittee on immigration for the Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beirut Port explosion, economic devastation and continued political crisis, Lebanon is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises globally, resulting in a widespread lack of access to medical care, potable water, food, electricity and fuel.
According to a U.N. study in March, 78 percent of the Lebanese population is living in poverty
“Speaking to the Conference to Support the Lebanese People on the anniversary of the Beirut Port explosion, you, Mr. President, spoke of the United States’ ‘longstanding support for the Lebanese people’ and recognized ‘that the people of Lebanon have suffered more over the past year because of avoidable political and economic crises,’” the letter read. “While we commend your decision to send an additional $98 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon, given the scale of the crises, it is clear that the country is not in a position to safely accept the return of its citizens at this time.
“Standing with the Lebanese people in their time of need is both morally right and in line with our national interests. As such, it is imperative that your administration take immediate steps to designate Lebanon for TPS or, at a minimum, defer removal for Lebanese nationals through DED.”
The letter also says the U.S. has long offered shelter to those seeking refuge from catastrophe and that the country should uphold that tradition and stand beside the Lebanese people in their time of need.
The full letter and a list of co-signers can be found here.