The Joe Biden administration on Friday offered temporary protected status to people from Myanmar stranded in the United States due to a military coup and subsequent violent protests in the country. This gives undocumented nationals whose home countries are unsafe the right to live and work in the US, according to The Financial Times.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the temporary protected status would last for 18 months. The designation applies to people from that country already living in the United States.

“Due to the military coup and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians, the people of Burma are suffering a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in many parts of the country,” Mayorkas said. “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.”

Commenting on the coup in Myanmar, Mayorkas said that it had “worsened humanitarian conditions” by limiting access to life-saving assistance, disrupting flights carrying humanitarian and medical aid, and spurring an economic crisis.

Earlier this week, reports suggested that around 100 people, primarily Myanmar police officers and their families, had fled to India since the protests began. The development likely took place after the police in the country were allegedly instructed to shoot at protestors “till they are dead”. On Friday, however, multiple reports said the Union home ministry had asked four North East states bordering Myanmar to maintain a strict vigil at the international borders and not allow anyone to enter India.

On Wednesday, in a reply to question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had said that India has “direct stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability in Myanmar”. He added that the recent developments since the military coup in the country last month were of “deep concern” to it.

Military coup in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar followed the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy and Suu Kyi in the national elections in November, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds.

The country’s military refused to accept the government, citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. It was also announced that the coup was the result of the government’s failure to delay the November election despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.

However, Myanmar’s Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing said on February 8 that “free and fair” elections will be held after the completion of the emergency period, and the military will hand over power to the winner.