Washington — Over a hundred Democrats in Congress called on Wednesday for the Biden team to protect Palestinian people in the U.S. from being sent back home while the fight’s still raging in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.
A big group of 103 from the House and Senate reached out to President Biden. They want him to kick off a program to stop Palestinians here without a steady legal status from being deported and let them work. These lawmakers aren’t looking to bring in more Palestinian refugees from abroad, though.
“In light of ongoing armed conflict, Palestinians already in the United States should not be forced to return to the Palestinian territories, consistent with President Biden’s stated commitment to protecting Palestinian civilians,” the Democrats said in their note. It was Senator Dick Durbin and Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Jan Schakowsky who led this charge.
Over 1,400 Israelis, mostly everyday people, lost their lives, and 200 got taken on Oct. 7 by Hamas, which the U.S. calls a terror group. They’ve been running Gaza since 2007. Since Israel hit back with their own attacks, going after what they say are fighters, the count’s over 10,500 gone in Gaza, as their local leaders report.
The Dems in Congress pointed to two ways President Biden could keep Palestinians here from being deported: Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, and Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED.
TPS is a way for the Department of Homeland Security to let people stay and work here if their home’s in a tough spot, like a war or a natural disaster. The Biden crew’s been handing out TPS to lots of people from places with big troubles, like Afghanistan, Haiti, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
DED’s a bit like TPS, but the President can make it happen with just his word, and people don’t have to sign up to stay safe from being sent back.
People from the DHS and the White House didn’t jump to respond to what the Congress members asked for.
On a side note, no Republicans signed the letter on Wednesday. The GOP members and those eyeing the presidential run have been pretty outspoken about not being keen on bringing Palestinian refugees to the U.S. They argue that the refugees’ way of life doesn’t mesh with American values and worry about the risk of letting in terrorists or Hamas fighters.
But, the Biden administration hasn’t said a word about plans to find new homes in the U.S. for Palestinian refugees who’ve been uprooted because of the troubles in Gaza. Actually, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has mentioned that the goal is for Palestinians to be able to stay put in their own land.
Plus, the U.S. doesn’t really make it a habit to welcome Palestinian refugees a lot. In the fiscal year 2023, even though the U.S. gave a new home to over 60,000 refugees, just 56 Palestinian refugees were let in, as the official numbers tell us. One big reason the U.S. doesn’t take in many Palestinians is because the United Nations, who usually points out who needs a new place to stay, sees them differently from other refugees.