HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Dr. Nashwan Al Othman left everything in war-torn Syria – even his family – for a better life in the U.S.
On Tuesday night, CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar investigated why Dr. Othman’s legal residency is in jeopardy.
The issue is Temporary Protected Status. It allows Othman and roughly 7,000 other Syrians to stay legally in the country without fear of deportation.
But that protection is set to expire.
Othman has settled into life in suburban Highland Park – even advocating for several human rights organizations.
“I couldn’t feel safe to stay there,” he said.
The highly educated endocrinologist fled war-torn Syria for the States in 2016, and remains in the country under Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.
Dr. Othman became a target in Syria because of his profession.
“Staying in Syria was a threat to personal my safety,” Othman said. “I couldn’t do that anymore, especially after my clinic was bombed. I saw that there was no hope for me.”
President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to make a decision this week on whether or not to extend TPS for Syrians seeking refuge in this country.
“We are so hopeful that it’s going to be renewed,” Othman said.
So are more than 200 faith-based organizations lobbying the president on behalf of Syrians keeping their TPS status.
Othman reiterated that going home is “not an option.”
But if TPS status is not extended, the roughly 7,000 Syrians in the U.S. would lose their ability to work and stay legally – facing the very real possibility of deportation back to Syria.
“To be frank with you, I didn’t try to think about it, because sometimes you just get obsessed if you think about the ‘what if,’” Othman said. “I don’t want to reach the ‘what if.’”
Syria’s TPS status was last renewed in January 2018. It is expected to expire at the end of September, but again, the decision from President Trump’s administration is expected sometime this week.