Politics & Government
3:24 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Detroit-area meeting will help Syrians in Michigan apply for temporary protected status

A group will hold a town hall meeting and legal clinic in the Detroit area on Saturday designed to provide assistance to Syrians looking to temporarily stay in the United States beyond the expiration of their visas.

The Obama administration has said it will allow Syrians to temporarily stay beyond the expiration of their visas and not deport those in the country illegally due to deteriorating conditions in their native country.

The United for a Free Syria-hosted event will be held at the Troy Public Library  tomorrow where immigration lawyers will take questions from attendees. 

UFS is a pro-democracy nonprofit organization based in Flint.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in March said Syrians will get temporary protected status because they'd face "serious threats to their personal safety" if they were to return to Syria.

Under the terms of the notice, Syrian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since March 29 of this year can apply for the status.

Serene Katranji-Zeni is a TPS Coordinator who works with United for a Free Syria.

She says the clinic is the second of its kind in Michigan, and she anticipates helping those eligible complete the time-consuming task of filling out necessary paperwork.

Although she can't say to how many Syrians in Michigan could qualify for the status, she says her office has fielded several requests for help, though many are not eligible.

"The major issue we're running into is that many more people have come into the country since [the March deadline] who want the status, but they don't qualify," she said.

According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website, the temporary protected status for Syrians is designated through September of next year.  USCIS currently lists seven other countries on its list for foreigners in the United States who may qualify for temporary protected status.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Tags: