WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - They are young people without a country. Twenty-four teenagers from Yemen came to the United States as exchange students. Now, they could soon be deported back to Yemen, which they fear could be a death sentence.
Six of those students attend Northern Virginia Community College. They came to the embassy of Yemen Monday hoping to find a way to stay in America, which invited them here in the first place.
The students, ages 17 to 20 years-old, are afraid to return to their home country.
"It's stressful. That's all we think about," said NVCC student Ahmed Mohammad.
They all came to the United States three years ago as part of a State Department high school student exchange program. They lived all over the county, immersing themselves in American life and even participating in volunteer activities.
NVCC student Saleh Al-Hodify says the State Department gave him a certificate for completing 100 volunteer hours.
When their exchange program was finished after one year, Yemen had broken out in civil war. And twice since then, the State Department has renewed their visas. But it cannot extend their visas anymore longer. The students' visas expire in May.
"We're just trying to find legal status...we can't depend on our families, they're having a hard enough time taking care of themselves," said Ahmed Mohammad.
The students' only hope to stay legally in the U.S. is to receive Temporary Protective Status, TPS, from the Department of Homeland Security. The Embassy of Yemen has put in those requests on behalf of the students.
The students say their families believe returning home would be dangerous, since they are all so Americanized. Al-Hodify says his families thinks he would be a target for ISIS.
Al-Hodify dreams of becoming a cardiac surgeon and wants to attend George Washington University and then Johns Hopkins for medical school.
If DHS grants temporary status to the 24 students, it’ll be a huge relief, but their next problem is money. Their State Department funding disappears in May. They have a GoFundMe account that has raised about $30,000, but the money won't go very far for 24 people.
Click here if you'd like to help.
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