WASHINGTON - The Trump administration said on Wednesday it would allow some 7,000 Syrians to remain in the United States for at least another 18 months under protected status as civil war rages in their native country.
The decision was a relief for the Syrians who would have faced the prospect of returning to a fractured country racked with violence if the administration had rescinded their temporary protected status (TPS) when it ran out in March.
Instead, they are allowed to stay through September 30, 2019.
"After carefully considering conditions on the ground, I have determined that it is necessary to extend the Temporary Protected Status designation for Syria," said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement.
"It is clear that the conditions upon which Syria's designation was based continue to exist, therefore an extension is warranted under the statute," she added.
The administration stopped short of re-designating Syria's status, which means that it will continue to benefit only Syrians who have been in the United States since 2016 or earlier.
"It fell short that they didn't re-designate it but I think it's a positive action nonetheless that should be praised," said Monzer Shakally, 21, a Syrian student at the University of Iowa with the temporary status. "I'm happy this decision came out now and I don't have to worry about this for another 18 months at least."