The U.S. government, which portrays itself as the defender of the little guy, has just reached out to another elite group (within an admittedly severely disadvantaged population).
This time it is to give Temporary Protected Status to a very lucky bunch of Syrians – people who had arrived in the United States on Monday, or earlier, either legally or illegally.
The Department of Homeland Security announced in the Federal Register that anyone from Syria who was already present in the U.S. on Monday, or who could scramble in from Canada or Mexico before midnight that night, would be eligible for its new (and third) round of TPS for one-time residents of Syria. It simultaneously announced that the earlier period of TPS for Syrians was renewed – surprise! – for another 18 months for the earlier beneficiaries.
TPS grants "temporary" legal status for this time period, which is rolled over again and again, during which time an otherwise illegal alien from the nation in question will not be deported, and will be allowed to work legally, provided they register and pay the fees.
It should be pretty clear to observers that it is only the luckiest, best-connected, and wealthiest of the Syrian refugees who can manage to get all the way from that benighted country to this one. One would assume that prying a visitor's visa out of the State Department would be a tough struggle for any Syrian – it would be pretty clear that their return to that country would be out of the question. (The visa process is made even more difficult because our embassy there is closed.)
Getting to the U.S. illegally would also be difficult and expensive; one would need to secure a visa from Mexico or Canada, buy the airline ticket, and then cross one of our borders illegally.
But if members of the Syrian one percent could overcome those obstacles, they would be rewarded with TPS status.
For an earlier review of this same process, about 18 months ago, see here.
As I have suggested in the past, a freeze on immigration status for Syrians now in this country, would be more appropriate than granting, in effect, life-long legal status here, as TPS does. On one hand, it would be bad public policy to deport someone to Syria; but the answer is not to grant the sweeping TPS status, either.