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The United States extended the temporary legal residency status Friday for nearly 7,000 people from Syria because of the country’s civil war.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske said Friday that temporary protected status would be extended for 18 months. It was set to expire on March 31.

Temporary status allows foreign citizens to stay in the U.S. if they lack some other form of legal residency and come from a country that meets certain criteria that makes it dangerous to return.

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The renewal order covers Syrian citizens and people without other nationalities who last resided there. It also allows about 1,800 additional new applicants to the program.

Pekoske said Syria continues to meet that criteria because of the civil war. He cited factors that include the deliberate targeting of civilians, the use of chemical weapons and the scarcity of food and water.

The Trump administration had sought to end TPS for several countries, including Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua, but extended it for Syrians.

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