The Obama administration issued a directive late Wednesday to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Yemeni nationals currently residing in the United States, according to an order approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Yemeni nationals seeking shelter from the war-torn country, where Iranian-backed militias are seeking to overthrow government forces, will be permitted asylum in America, according to the order, which came as a result of efforts undertaken by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a group known for its fierce and sometimes conspiracy-fueled criticism of Israel.
The order officially designated Yemen as a TPS nation "for a period of 18 months, effective September 3, 2015, through March 3, 2017," according to an advance copy of the directive published by the ADC.
"This designation allows eligible Yemeni nationals (and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) who have continuously resided in the United States since September 3, 2015, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since September 3, 2015 to be granted TPS," according to the directive, which was approved Wednesday by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Once the order expires in March, DHS will reassess whether the protection order should be extended.
The situation in Yemen has deteriorated over the last several months, as Iran sends a greater number of forces into the country to help wage war.
Iranian warships have been present in the region, resulting in several stand-offs between U.S. forces and those representing the Islamic Republic. Iran has been accused of smuggling weapons into the nation and also of smuggling in military advisers.
Iran has remained defiant in the waters near Yemen, stating that the country will not be deterred by U.S. forces seeking to stop weapons shipments.
"This presence [of Iranian warships] continues in the free waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to fight against piracy according to the plan which was drawn at the request of the International Maritime Organization and no one can warn the Iranian warships (to move away) and this has not happened yet," Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying in April.
Yemeni nationals who have been in the country since Thursday will be eligible to apply for the temporary protective status, according to the order.
"Yemeni nationals looking to obtain TPS need to be aware that the status is not automatically applied, and that it is necessary to file the appropriate forms," the ADC said in a press release, offering assistance to Yemenis who might need help completing their forms.
"If you are applying for TPS for the first time, you must complete USCIS Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status) and submit a filing fee, supporting evidence of identity and nationality, proof of residence, and, if you are age 14 or older, a fee for biometric services," the release states.
"This designation allows eligible Yemeni nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since September 3, 2015, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since September 3, 2015 to be granted TPS," ADC says.
Yemeni nationals in the United States also may apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) and for travel authorization through the U.S. government, according to DHS’s order.
It remains unclear how these Yemenis will be screened and approved by DHS and the Obama administration.
The ADC has come under fire from pro-Israel organizations for promoting conspiracy theories about Israel and Jewish people. Those affiliated with the ADC have accused the Jewish state of "ethnic cleansing" and claimed that Congress relies on "money from radical Zionists."
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on regional conflicts, was skeptical of the DHS order after reviewing it late Wednesday.
"There's a certain irony in the Department of Homeland Security receiving any petition including CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations], a group which the U.S. Department of Justice designated co-conspirator in a Hamas finance scheme," Rubin said, referring to CAIR’s role in a case revolving around funding for Hamas.
DHS should immediately explain the methods it will use to vet Yemenis receiving protected status, Rubin said.
"Jeh Johnson should certainly explain how he will vet Yemenis given the heightened threat of terror Yemeni residents who might not recognize the supremacy of U.S. law, even when it contradicts matters of culture," he said. "With the southern border open, get ready for Yemenis stranded in other countries to join the flood across the border in order to take advantage of DHS’ policy."
"Yemen does find itself in a tragic situation," Rubin added. "It has been a hotbed of radicalism for years but, even with its descent into civil war and state failure, Yemenis are not without recourse: Iran wants to support the [rebel] Houthis? Let the Houthis return to Iran. Saudi Arabia wants to support Sunni radicals? Let them host Yemenis made refugees by their policies."