MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Biden administration said Monday it is expanding and extending temporary legal status in the United States for several thousand people from Myanmar after a military coup last year in the Asian country.

The decision extends Temporary Protected Status for 18 months for an estimated 970 people of Myanmar until May 25, 2024, and makes an additional 2,290 eligible to live and work until that date if they were in the United States on Sunday.

People of Myanmar “are continuing to suffer a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis due to a military coup, upheaval, and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Myanmar, also called Burma, has been ruled by the military for most of the past 70 years. The army’s takeover interrupted a gradual transition toward democratic civilian government and a more modern, open economy and resulted in a slew of sanctions against the military, which controls many industries as well as army family members and cronies.

About 150,000 immigrants from Myanmar lived in the U.S. in 2019, according to the Migration Policy Institute analysis of census data. The largest concentrations were in Marion County, Indiana, with 8,800; Los Angeles County, California, with 7,600; and Ramsey County, Minnesota, with 6,800.

Congress created the Temporary Protected Status program in 1990 to provide a safe haven for people unable to return to their countries due to natural disasters or civil strife. About 350,000 people from more than a dozen countries benefit from the status, which can be extended in increments of up to 18 months. People of El Salvador are the largest beneficiaries.

The Trump administration attempted to end the status for many countries but faced legal challenges.

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