WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on extending temporary special protections for 7,000 Syrians (all times local):
The Trump administration confirms it is extending protections for nearly 7,000 Syrian citizens living in the U.S. for another 18 months, saying the action is justified by civil war.
Facing a Wednesday deadline, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says "the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions" were reasons to let them remain until September 2019.
Syrians were first granted Temporary Protected Status in 2012, a humanitarian program that can be extended for up to 18 months at a time.
It's a huge relief for Syrians, considering that the administration has ended protections for other groups. But applicants must have been in the U.S. since August 2016, disappointing newer arrivals.
The Trump administration is expected to extend protections for nearly 7,000 Syrian citizens living in the U.S. for another 18 months. But it won't let more applicants from Syria enter the program.
Two U.S. officials familiar with the administration's plan say that "Temporary Protected Status" for Syrians will be renewed Wednesday. But they say the Homeland Security Department won't re-designate Syria as having conditions preventing citizens from returning safely.
That means Syrians already receiving the protections can stay, but more can't apply once the current program expires in March.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the decision publicly.
The expected decision follows a contentious debate within the Trump administration about whether to cut off the program.