Jose Palma, head of the Massachusetts Temporary Protected Status Committee, address a TPS meeting in Somerville, Mass., on June 30, 2019. TPS is a program that offers temporary legal status to some immigrants in the US who can't return to their countries because of war or natural disasters.
Washington CNN  — 

The Trump administration will extend temporary protections for Syrians living in the United States for 18 months, allowing thousands of people to remain and work legally, according to an administration official.

The administration has moved to end the Temporary Protected Status for many of the countries with such protection, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Sudan, Haiti and Nepal, arguing that the conditions in those countries no longer supported the designation.

However, legal challenges have prevented the US from terminating the status for those countries, leaving people in limbo as the cases work through the courts.

The administration has argued that the program has allowed people to stay in the US far longer than initially intended.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan followed former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s lead with the decision on Syria. In January 2018, she extended TPS for Syria for an additional 18 months though September 30, 2019. The administration is required to decide whether it will extend protections 60 days in advance of expiration.

This was the first TPS decision McAleenan made during his tenure as acting secretary. DHS declined to comment ahead of the official release.

On July 26, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter recommending the extension, according to a State Department source.

A State Department travel advisory from April, said, “No part of Syria is safe from violence.”

A report from Save the Children in July found that more children had been killed in Idlib in the previous month, a total of 33, than in all of 2018.

“I would love to return home with my family today, but it’s just not safe yet. I have heard from friends and acquaintances who have tried to return, and have faced persecution and imprisonment,” said Mazen, a Syrian pharmacist in Texas in a statement last month.

Syrians who have resided in the US since August 1, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the US since October 1, 2016 are eligible for the humanitarian protection.