The Joe Biden administration will offer temporary status to people from Myanmar living in the US, its latest reaction to the February coup in the country.
"Due to the military coup and security forces' brutal violence against civilians, the people of Burma (Myanmar) are suffering a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in many parts of the country," Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas said in a release as quoted by The Hill.
Mayorkas decided to designate Myanmar for TPS after consultation with interagency partners and consideration of the extraordinary conditions in the country caused by the military coup last month, which has led to continuing violence, arbitrary detentions and use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters, the statement explained.
"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," he added.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is offered to those who have left amid unrest or disasters in their country. DHS cited "continuing violence, pervasive arbitrary detentions, the use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters, and intimidation of the people of Burma" as factors in extending the status to people of Myanmar who arrived in the U.S. by March 11.
The designation allows people from Myanmar to remain in the U.S. for 18 months, and the government estimates about 1,600 people may be eligible to apply, according to The Hill.
The decision to provide a safe haven for people from Myanmar in the US follows growing international alarm at increasing and deadly violence in the country following the military coup that took place on February 1. The Biden administration imposed sanctions on nearly a dozen officials it associates with the coup and three entities associated with the military.
The military toppled the Southeast Asian nation's elected government on February 1 and launched a massive crackdown on anti-coup protesters, shutting down the internet and arresting hundreds of people, including the state counsellor, de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the figurehead president.
Violence against protesters has so far left over 60 people dead and more than 1,800 people arrested.