Somali nationals with no other legal means to stay in the US can now apply for temporary protected status.
The status allows Somalis currently in the US to stay here.
The government first designated Somalis as eligible for the status in 2001. The protection from deportation expires about every 18 months.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano decided to reauthorize the status, citing the poor living conditions, armed conflicts, and lasting effects from severe drought.
John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota says few Somalis in the state have temporary status, but Napolitano's decision will allow more to apply for the designation.
"The government basically has decided that things continue to be so bad in Somalia that even people who've recently arrived or who are transitioning between statuses should get this protection," Keller said.
The Department of Homeland Security says about 250 Somalis nationwide are eligible to re-register for temporary protected status while fewer than 1,000 people will be eligible for the first time.