By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Thurs. Nov. 2, 2023: Hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians have now been made homeless as Israel unleashes war on Gaza – a tiny 139-square mile that was home to over 2 million.
The harsh, genocidal response is the Israeli government’s revenge for the October 7th attack by Hamas militants that claimed 1,300 Israeli lives, injured 3,400 and left some 200 hostages.
But so far, nearly 9,000 Palestinians, including over innocent 3,000 children and some 30 journalists are dead, and thousands more are injured. All are forced to live in complete darkness with little food or water.
The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA), said the number of displaced people in the Gaza Strip could top 1 million.
So where are these newly displaced people to go? What is needed now, is for the US government to quit its hypocrisy and offer Refugee Status and Temporary Protected Status, (TPS) to all law abiding, innocent Palestinians, much like they have done for so many others caught in war, including Ukrainians, Syrians, Afghans, Yemenis, Somalians and others.
It is what the US refugee and TPS rules were created for. “Refugee status,” according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS), “is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm.”
The US has done this for Ukraine so why not Palestinians? It is time for the administration to recognize the validity of Palestinian passports as proof of them being a citizen or national of that country rather than continue to see them as stateless.
It is unfortunate that in 2023, Palestinians are still considered the largest stateless community in the world and that statelessness has dominated and shaped the lives of four generations of Palestinian refugees since their exodus in 1948.
As of 2022, 40 percent of the nearly 5.9 million registered Palestinian refugees live in Jordan; 10 percent in Syria, although approximately one-fifth of these are believed to have fled to other countries since the start of the Syrian civil war; and 8 percent in Lebanon, according to UNRWA. Where will the 2023 group being forced out again by Israel go?
The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, (USRAP), accepts referrals for refugees determined to be particularly vulnerable and in need of the protection provided by third-country resettlement. The program provides a pathway for resettlement to the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, (INA). The INA defines a refugee as an individual who has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
This should be also open to Palestinian civilians who have zero to do with the killing of Israeli citizens.
TPS can also be provided to those Palestinians in the US without legal status, when “conditions that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”
Palestinians too deserve US refugee status and TPS. It’s the least America can do instead of continuing to turn a blind eye, while largely telling the world with its actions that its ok to help some but not others.
The NGO International Service for Human Rights, (ISHR), has condemned all crimes under international law committed by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups, saying targeted and indiscriminate attacks against civilians can never be justified.
ISHR called for the International Criminal Court, (ICC), to accelerate its investigation into serious crimes committed by all parties in Palestine and Israel.
The Biden administration should support the same call, and much like it has done for Ukrainians, provide refugee relief and TPS now to Palestinians too.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com, the Black Immigrant Daily News.