update deskU.S. News

Citing ‘significant’ decline in Gaza, Biden admin won’t deport Palestinians for 18 months

“Those convicted of felonies or who are otherwise deemed to pose a public safety threat are not eligible for deferred enforced departure,” said Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Credit: John Papadopoulos/Shutterstock.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Credit: John Papadopoulos/Shutterstock.

The Biden administration announced that it will grant a “temporary safe haven” for 18 months to Palestinians who would otherwise be deported.

It cited “humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories, and primarily Gaza” that “have significantly deteriorated” as the reason for the deferment in a memorandum released on Wednesday.

“This grant of deferred enforced departure would provide protections for most Palestinians in the United States, with certain exceptions,” stated Jake Sullivan, the White House national security advisor. “Those convicted of felonies or who are otherwise deemed to pose a public safety threat are not eligible for deferred enforced departure.”

It’s not clear how many people will be affected by the memorandum.

Palestinians are included in the “unknown” citizenship category in U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement removal statistics. ICE removed 43 total people of “unknown” citizenship between October 2020 and September 2023, per its statistical database. Of those, only 16 individuals did not have a criminal conviction or other pending criminal charges.

Some Republican lawmakers have called for the deportation of any foreign student visa-holders who celebrated Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack in southern Israel.

“If you’re a visitor to our country and support Hamas’s gruesome murder of innocent babies and killing people while they sleep, then you do not get to remain in America and enjoy freedoms that are antithetical to the terrorist extremists you support,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) in a statement in October.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth said in November that she would not suspend students who engaged in disruptive, anti-Israel protests because suspensions could create immigration problems for them.

“Because we later heard serious concerns about collateral consequences for the students, such as visa issues, we have decided, as an interim action, that the students who remained after the deadline will be suspended from non-academic campus activities,” she stated.

In the memorandum, U.S. President Joe Biden also said that he directed Alejandro Mayorkas, the U.S. secretary of homeland security, to “take appropriate measures to authorize employment for noncitizens whose removal has been deferred” for the duration of the deferral.

He also directed Mayorkas “to consider suspending regulatory requirements” for non-immigrant Palestinian students.

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