U.S. extends immigration protections for Burmese immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security is extending immigration
protections for Burmese immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary
Alejandro Mayorkas announced Friday. The Temporary Protected Status for
Myanmar will be extended for 18 months from May 26 to Nov. 25, 2025.

Under
protected status people can legally live and work in the U.S. if they
cannot return to their home countries for a variety of reasons, such as
natural disasters or war. 

Myanmar’s military, called the Tatmadaw, has been in power since 1962. U.S. policy is to call the country Burma, the name it formally shed over 30 years ago after the ruling junta brutally suppressed a pro-democracy uprising.

“Burma’s
democratically elected civilian government was overthrown in a military
coup on February 1, 2021, giving rise to further widespread violence
that continues to put individuals in Burma at significant risk,”
Homeland Security said in a statement. “Burma also continues to face
challenges in the provision of food, access to health care, and economic
stability.”

The Department of Homeland Security said Friday’s
action, officially a redesignation of Myanmar, would extend protections
for 2,300 current beneficiaries. It would also allow an estimated 7,300
additional Burmese nationals to apply for protections.

Though the
country started a transition to democracy in 2011, military leaders
tightened their grip in response to recent elections that brought
overwhelming victories for the opposition party, National League for
Democracy.

After the the party made more gains in the November
2020 elections, the military disputed the results. It seized control of
the government in February 2021 and arrested political leaders.

The coup kicked off a civil war. Opposition leaders who weren’t arrested formed a National Unity Government in exile and launching an armed resistance against the Tatmadaw.

In the violence since the 2021 coup, an estimated 6,000 civilians have been killed, with tens of thousands detained and more than 2.6 million displaced. 

The White House has responded to Myanmar’s political situation with sanctions on 94 people and 55 business entities tied to the military regime since the coup.