Congressional Democrats are reportedly circulating a draft of a letter calling upon the Biden Administration to extend certain protections from deportation for Palestinians living in the United States.
The drafted letter, obtained by the Daily Caller, is reportedly being circulated by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
The letter urges the Biden Administration to designate the Palestinian territories for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which would prevent the removal of Palestinians living in the U.S. from the country, and would make them eligible for employment authorization.
Additionally, the letter calls for President Biden to authorize Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Palestinians living in the U.S., which would similarly protect Palestinians from being deported for a designated period of time.
“In light of ongoing armed conflict, Palestinians already in the United States should not be forced to return to the Palestinian territories, consistent Biden’s stated commitment to protecting Palestinian civilians,” the letter reads.
On Oct. 7, 2023, the Islamist militant organization Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel from Gaza, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking over 200 hostages — most of whom were civilians.
Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 offensive, Israel has retaliated with constant bombardments of the Gaza Strip in an effort to eliminate Hamas, while urging Palestinian civilians to evacuate from northern Gaza.
“Hamas is hiding behind Palestinian civilians, and it’s despicable — and not surprisingly, cowardly as well,” President Biden said in an Oct. 25 speech. “This also puts an added burden on Israel while they go after Hamas. But that does not lessen the need for us to operate in line with the laws of war. Israel has to do everything in its power.”
The letter cites United Nations data on the Israel-Hamas conflict that reports at least 8,000 Palestinians have been killed as of Oct. 29, including more than 3,300 children.
The UN also reports that 1.4 million of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million have been displaced.
The U.S. Department of State has instituted a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Gaza “due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.”
“U.S. Department of State statistics indicate that 7,241 nonimmigrant visas were issued to individuals holding Palestinian Authority (PA) travel documents in 2022, the most recent year for which such data is available,” the letter said.
“While the number of non-immigrant visas issued cannot provide an exact approximation of the number of Palestinians that would be eligible for TPS or DED, it makes clear that the number of beneficiaries would be small, while the benefit could be lifesaving,” the lawmakers wrote.
“TPS or DED would enable Palestinians currently present in the U.S., including students, tourists, and workers, to be protected from a dangerous return to their homeland while affording them the ability to remain safely in the U.S. and to work legally to support themselves and their families,” they added.