Mar 12, 2021 - World

U.S. grants Myanmar nationals temporary protected status

Photo of a grid of black and white portraits with rose petals scattered on top, framed by LED candles

A vigil for those reportedly impacted by violence in anti-coup protests. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. government will grant temporary deportation relief and work permits to Myanmar citizens amid an increasingly violent crackdown by security forces in the Southeast Asian country, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced Friday.

What he's saying: "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," Mayorkas said in a statement.

  • "The coup has worsened humanitarian conditions in several areas by limiting access to life-saving assistance, disrupting flights carrying humanitarian and medical aid, and spurring an economic crisis," per a DHS statement.
  • "Such conditions prevent Burmese nationals and habitual residents from returning safely."

How it works: The decision covers roughly 1,600 Burmese people who are already in the U.S. — and those without nationality who last habitually resided in Burma — and renders them eligible for TPS for the next 18 months.

  • Individuals who can demonstrate "continuous residence" in the U.S. as of March 11 are eligible under the designation.
  • Of note: The Department of Homeland Security emphasized that "individuals should not believe smugglers or others claiming the border is now open."

The big picture: The Biden administration is ratcheting up pressure on military coup leaders in Myanmar. The U.S. has condemned the violence and enforced a number of sanctions.

  • Since the military overthrew the democratically elected government on Feb. 1, people have demonstrated across Myanmar nearly every day.
  • A United Nations human rights investigator said that security forces killed at least 70 people as of Thursday.
Go deeper