MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In 48 hours, we’ll know more about what the future holds for local Somali refugees.
A government program that gives protective status to people fleeing war-torn countries is on the line, the Temporary Status Program. TPS gives full legal protection to people from countries with civil unrest like Haiti, Yemen and Somalia.
The Somalia TPS program will be re-evaluated later this week, and could disappear.
“I came to the United States in 2009, under the threat of al-Shabaab,” Wynfred Russell said. “They tortured me for some time, they tried to brainwash me, but luckily I escaped and was able to come to the U.S.”
Wynfred Russell shared some words with WCCO on behalf of a Somali man who has Temporary Protective Status – a TPS holder.
“We understand it would be much more impactful to have the holders of TPS talk to you, but please understand the fear and anxiety that they are going through,” Russell said.
Russell is a former TPS holder himself — fleeing war in Liberia before working in Minnesota in higher education. He says the man who wrote the letter, and 249 other Somalis who fled a country of violence, are afraid.
TPS is granted to people from these countries.
The program has been cut from several countries, and as of Thursday, Somalia is on the line. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking Minnesotans for help.
In a press conference Tuesday, Jaylani Hussein said, “Remind their congress and particularly the Department of Homeland Security to reinstate Somalia TPS. This is a legal standing to protect them from a war-torn and drought-stricken country.”
On Thursday, federal officials will decide to either terminate the program, extend it or reinstate it.
Liberians who also have a strong community in Minnesota recently lost their TPS status, but have a year grace period to make arrangements.
TPS rulings do not affect immigrants who are U.S. citizens.