Most Syrians living in the United States on expiring visas or without proper documentation will have a chance to extend their stay in the country without fear of deportation. More than 300 Syrians live on Long Island, according to Census figures.
The Obama administration announced Friday it will issue “temporary protected status” to Syrians, as the federal government often does for people from countries devastated by war, natural disasters or famine.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement that the status aimed to help Syrians now in the United States. Conditions resulting from clashes between rebels and the military in their country, she said, “have worsened to the point where Syrian nationals already in the United States would face serious threats to their personal safety.”
More than 3,600 Syrian nationals — including the contingent on Long Island — live in the metro area of New York City, New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, according to the 2010 Census.
The details of how to request the status will be published this week, and Syrians should wait until that information is released before applying, said Katie Tichacek Kaplan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Patrick Young, program director of the Central American Refugee Center on Long Island, said his organization will assist those seeking the status once the application period starts. “This is a good time for Syrians wishing to stay to get their papers in order and make sure they have birth certificates or passports to prove nationality,” Young said.