Palestinians living in US will be shielded from deportation, the White House says

On Wednesday, the White House declared that Palestinians residing in the U.S. will be shielded from deportation amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, citing “significantly deteriorated” conditions in Gaza. Under the authority of “deferred enforced departure,” President Joe Biden signed a directive granting Palestinian immigrants temporary protection from deportation. This measure, lasting 18 months, offers a “temporary safe haven” for qualifying Palestinians.

In response to over 100 Democratic lawmakers’ call, the administration’s decision aims to prevent Palestinians in the U.S. from being forced to return to perilous conditions in Gaza. However, Palestinians with felony convictions or considered a public safety threat do not qualify. Voluntarily returning home would also result in the loss of deportation protection.

The exact number of affected Palestinians is not immediately clear, but it is expected to be relatively small. In 2022, approximately 7,241 nonimmigrant visas were issued to Palestinians, according to November data from lawmakers. The deferred departure designation, not constituting a specific immigration status, ensures those covered are exempt from deportation, with eligibility determined by terms set by President Biden. Other groups currently covered by the same policy include individuals from Liberia and Hong Kong.