Washington (December 15, 2023) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken urging the Biden administration to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Belarus. TPS provides protection to foreign nationals in the United States whose home countries are experiencing temporary and extraordinary conditions, including armed conflict and natural disasters, among other circumstances that make a return home unsafe. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is a cosigner of the letter in the Senate.
The authoritarian rule of the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka, has imposed some of the world’s worst human rights violations on Belarusians. According to the State Department, Lukashenka’s security forces have intentionally quashed political dissent and violated human rights, including through arbitrary detention, torture, and extra-judicial executions. In September, Lukashenka ordered Belarusian consulates to stop renewing or extending passports, forcing Belarusians living abroad to return and risk persecution.
In the letter to Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken, the senators wrote, “More than 79,000 Belarusians live in the United States. The extraordinarily dangerous situation facing Belarusians in their home country amply satisfies the requirements for a TPS designation. TPS is necessary to ensure the United States does not return Belarusian nationals to a country governed by an authoritarian regime that would likely subject them to repression, persecution, violence, and even death.”
The senators continued, “Given the extraordinary conditions in Belarus, paired with the urgency posed by Lukashenka’s forcing Belarusians to return home to renew or extend their passports, we urge you to use your authority under law to designate Belarus for TPS.”