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Trump administration extends protected status for Syrians in U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is extending protections that allow about 7,000 Syrians to live and work legally in the U.S.

The decision by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was announced Thursday and extends temporary protected status for 18 months for those who have been in the U.S. since Aug. 1, 2016.

Temporary protected status is granted to countries ravaged by natural disasters or war and lets citizens of those countries remain in the U.S. until the situation improves back home. About 300,000 people have received those protections. McAleenan says the continued armed conflict in Syria merited the extension.

Trump administration officials had moved to discontinue protections for many countries; several lawsuits have been filed. A judge ruled protections for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador cannot be immediately ended.