Whether they are in the U.S. legally or not, more than 8,000 Syrian refugees in the country were just granted asylum by the federal government.
The Department of Homeland Security granted temporary protected status to the Syrian citizens, despite fears of ISIS terrorists slipping in through the program, Fox News reported.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said the “humanitarian crisis” the refugees face in their homeland has made it impossible for them to return.
Though the program, which was created in 1990, is supposed to grant the protected status to refugees temporarily, critics have argued there is nothing temporary about it. No one has ever been required to leave due to an expiring status.
The amnesty will provide the immigrants with a work permit, Social Security number, drivers license and welfare eligibility. Typically, the status is granted to a select group of refugees who are affected by a specific event, like an earthquake.
“This is kind of a rolling amnesty,” reported Fox News’ William La Jeunesse. “This designation, however, not only grandfathers in all Syrians who have been arriving before 2012 but all who’ve arrived since then” and does not expire until 2018.
Critics slam the program for its inability to properly vet incoming refugees and protect against possible terrorist threats. Those who are enrolled in the program also get a “free pass” to citizenship, critics argue, by marrying a citizen or green card holder.
At present, there are 300,000 immigrants living in the U.S. from 12 countries who have been granted protected status, some as far back as the 1990s, according to Fox News.