MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rep. Keith Ellison said that he’s “grateful and relieved” after the Somalia TPS program was extended for 18 months on Thursday.

The Temporary Protected Status program applies to people fleeing war-torn countries. TPS gives full legal protection to people from countries with civil unrest like Haiti, Yemen and Somalia.

The Somalia TPS program was under reevaluation this week. The program has been cut from several countries, and Somalia was on the line.

“After carefully reviewing conditions in Somalia with interagency partners, Secretary Nielsen determined the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist. Therefore, pursuant to the statute, she has extended Somalia’s TPS designation for 18 months,” the press release from Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen said.

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.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar also issued a statement following the decision:

The Somali community in Minnesota—the largest in the country— has contributed so much to the cultural and economic vitality of our state. Conditions in Somalia remain dire, and the Administration recognized this and extended Temporary Protected Status for Somalia. I’ve always believed that our country’s strength comes from the diversity of our people. Somali people in Minnesota and across the U.S. deserve to continue living, working, and succeeding here, as they have for decades.

The extension runs through March 17, 2020.

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