A Deferred Order Offering Assistance

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By: Emma Betz, Staff Writer

As a result of the attacks that took place on October 7, 2023, in Gaza by Hamas, the United States has responded to the crisis with efforts of support for the civilians who continue to remain in danger.[1] Although President Biden has not yet made any policy changes to offer military aid to Israel, on February 14, 2024, President Biden issued a Memorandum to the Secretary of Homeland Security authorizing Deferred Enforced Departure and employment authorization for 18 months for eligible Palestinians.[2] The authorization allows Palestinian immigrants whose homelands are currently undertaking a major crisis as a result of conflict from another entity, to continue to remain in the United States and legally maintain employment.[3]

The authorization, however, does not come without its limits. Pursuant to the Memorandum ordered by President Biden, any Palestinian in the United States who falls within the following criteria will not be offered Deferred Enforced Departure: a Palestinian 1) who has made the decision to return to the Palestinian territories; 2) who has not continuously resided in the United States; 3) who is inadmissible pursuant to Section 212(2)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); 4) who has “been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States” or who meet the criteria set forth in Section 208(b)(2)(A) of the INA; 5) who is “subject to extradition;” 6) who presents a danger to the United States; or 7) whose presence could give rise to potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.[4]

Although these limits may affect some, President Biden and his administration believe that this Memorandum authorizing Deferred Enforced Departure will help nearly 6,000 Palestinians who would benefit from being granted the ability to remain in the United States for an extended period of time given the current circumstances of the ongoing war in their homeland.[5]

In addition to the efforts that are being made by President Biden through this Memorandum, President Biden’s administration has already ordered the implementation of sanctions upon Israeli settlers who have been accused of violence in the West Bank.[6] These efforts by the United States reflect the position of offering assistance to Palestine as a result of the recent attacks tolling an increasing number of deaths. As of February 14, 2024, more than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israel’s war against Hamas.[7] Two-thirds of Palestinians who have been killed are reportedly women and children.[8]

To continue efforts that offer support to Palestinians, the United States, some have argued, should consider enforcing Temporary Protected Status to Palestinians because this status would require the Department of Homeland Security to assess the protections that have been granted to Palestinians before the protections are set to expire.[9] Although helpful and a step in the right direction, Deferred Enforcement Departure may pose a risk of expiration since the deferment is ultimately at the discretion of the president.[10] Offered as a “temporary safe haven,” Palestinians currently in the United States will hopefully feel a sense of protection as a result of the Deferred Enforcement Departure, deferring enforced departure for at least another 18 months.[11]

[1] Hamed Aleaziz, Biden Shields Palestinians in the U.S. From Deportation, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/14/us/politics/biden-palestinians-deportation.html (February 14, 2024).

[2] Memorandum on the Deferred Enforced Departure for Certain Palestinians, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2024/02/14/memorandum-on-the-deferred-enforced-departure-for-certain-palestinians/ (February 14, 2024).

[3] Aleaziza, supra note 1.

[4] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, supra note 2.

[5] Dan Whitcome, Biden blocks deportation of Palestinians in US, citing conditions in Gaza, Reuters https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-shielding-palestinians-us-deportation-new-york-times-reports-2024-02-14/ (February 14, 2024).

[6] Pitasanna Shanmugathas, Biden administration to defer deportation of Palestinian immigrants in US amidst war, Jurist https://www.jurist.org/news/2024/02/biden-administration-to-defer-deportation-of-palestinian-immigrants-in-us-amidst-war/ (February 16, 2024).

[7] Id

[8] Id.  

[9] Aleaziza, supra note 1.

[10] Id.

[11] Statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Deferred Enforced Departure for Palestinians, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/02/14/statement-by-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-on-deferred-enforced-departure-for-palestinians/ (February 14, 2024).

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