Arab American community members are urging the Department of Homeland Security to declare Temporary Protected Status for people from Lebanon.
It would grant temporary immigration status for people to live and work in the U.S. due to challenges in their home country.
Adam Beddawi, policy manager for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), says over 12,000 people are impacted by TPS in the United States, including many families in Metro Detroit.
“There are certain people who currently reside in this country…if they were to go back to Lebanon, they would not be able to make ends meet. And in fact, they may even be subject to violent horror,” Beddawi explains.
As the home of the largest Arab American population per capita in the country, Dearborn also houses one of the biggest concentrations of Lebanese communities.
Beddawi says Lebanese nationals face unique challenges, especially after the pandemic and political crisis in the country. Lebanese citizens are in the fourth year of economic turmoil and lack many basic necessities.
“You’re talking about people who are slipping through the cracks in this country.” – Adam Beddawi, NNAAC Policy Manager
The Beirut explosion of 2020 added fuel to the fire.
“The most recent event that I think should have forced action by the Department of Homeland Security went without a response, and the conditions have only worsened over time,” Beddawi says.
In April 2023, Michigan Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell introduced the Lebanon TPS Act of 2023. If passed, Congress can request the Department of Homeland Security to declare Temporary Protected Status for Lebanese nationals for 18 months.
“So without TPS status, you’re talking about people who are slipping through the cracks in this country — where we have capacity and support systems in place to provide for them in a temporary and even long-term capacity,” Beddawi explains.
Beddawi reveals about 130 community organizations signed a letter and sent it to the DHS urging them to grant TPS for the Lebanese population.
“We’re hoping for now is to have some time to sit down with members of the Biden administration and communicate what we articulated in that letter,” he says.
Beddawi warns if TPS is not granted, Lebanese nationals in the U.S. will get deported and return to horrible conditions.