The United States will offer temporary protected status to people from Myanmar who fear returning home, the Biden administration said Friday, as it tries to ratchet up pressure on military coup leaders in the Southeast Asian country, and provide protection to some of those criticizing it.
“Due to the military coup and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians, the people of Burma are suffering a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in many parts of the country,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement, using another name for Myanmar. “After a thorough review of this dire situation, I have designated Burma for Temporary Protected Status so that Burmese nationals and habitual residents may remain temporarily in the United States.”
Senior Biden administration officials told NPR ahead of the announcement that they estimate the new protection will likely cover about 1,600 people who are already in the U.S., allowing them to continue to live and work in the country legally for the next 18 months.
The move comes in response to the Feb. 1 coup and the ensuing crackdown on protesters. A United Nations human rights investigator said, as of Thursday, security forces killed at least 70 people.