Burmese in US Offered Temporary Refuge from Coup Crackdown
Protesters with placards with the image of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi hold a candlelight vigil and shout slogans in Yangon on March 12, 2021
The US government said Friday that Myanmar citizens stranded by the violence following the country’s military coup would be able to remain inside the United States under “temporary protected status.”
“Due to the military coup and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians, the people of Burma are suffering a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in many parts of the country,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, using Myanmar’s former name.
“After a thorough review of this dire situation, I have designated Burma for temporary protected status so that Burmese nationals and habitual residents may remain temporarily in the United States.”
The United States has granted TPS protection to nationals of a number of countries struck by political upheavals or natural disasters that make their return difficult.
The protection is usually set for a limited period, like 12 months, but can be extended if the hardships or threats remain.
DHS said the February 1 takeover by Myanmar’s military has led to an economic crisis and shortages of humanitarian and medical aid.
In addition, it said the people protesting the coup face arbitrary detention, intimidation and lethal violence from the military.
“Such conditions prevent Burmese nationals and habitual residents from returning safely,” the department said in a statement.
The initial TPS order will last 18 months. DHS said about 1,600 people in the United States now would qualify for it.
Earlier this week President Joe Biden’s administration offered TPS for tens of thousands of Venezuelans who fled political repression and economic chaos in the once wealthy South American country.
At the US State Department, spokesman Ned Price assailed the Myanmar junta Friday for ongoing attacks on protestors.
“The military and police have shown complete disregard for the people of Burma and have targeted young people, doctors, civil servants journalists and political activists,” he said.
“We reiterate our calls to the military and the police to stop the violence and arbitrary detention, to release all those unjustly detained and, again, to restore the democratically elected civilian government.”