Relief sought for undocumented Filipinos in US in wake of ‘Yolanda’ | Global News

Relief sought for undocumented Filipinos in US in wake of ‘Yolanda’

/ 05:08 PM November 22, 2013

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Rand Beers. AFP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES – Twenty United States senators have sought Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for undocumented Filipinos currently living in the US while the Philippines continues to grapple with the devastation wrought by Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ (International name: Haiyan).

TPS allows undocumented immigrants to live and work in the US if returning to their homeland would be unsafe due to conflict or national disaster. It was granted to Nicaraguans and Hondurans in the US after hurricane Mitch in 1998, to El Salvadorans in 2001 after a series of earthquakes, and to Haitians after the 2010 earthquake that left the nation’s capital in ruins. TPS was also granted to nationals of strife-torn Somalia, Sudan and Syria.


“Typhoon Haiyan has wrought unparalleled destruction and tragic loss of life in the Philippines,” the senators said in a letter sent yesterday (Friday in Manila) to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Rand Beers. “Victims of Typhoon Haiyan clearly meet the eligibility requirements for TPS, and we urge you to extend this designation as soon as possible.”


In a letter dated Nov. 21, the senators also asked the DHS to suspend deportations of Filipinos and expedite visa processing for those whose family members are either US citizens or permanent residents  and those with approved or pending family petitions, “especially Filipinos who have been orphaned, lost relatives in the storm or suffered other serious hardships.”

“The United States has demonstrated its commitment to assisting the Philippines with the recovery effort through foreign aid, military assistance and relief supplies, but we must also assist the victims’ families in whatever way possible,” said the senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Republican senators John McCain and Marco Rubio.

In their letter, the senators clarified that TPS is “not a backdoor to US citizenship” and does not make a beneficiary eligible for legal permanent resident status or US citizenship.

“When the TPS designation of a country is terminated, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before the designation.” they said. TPS would be available to Filipinos who pass a background check and meet eligibility requirements.

The letter was signed by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Robert Menendez (D–NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),Chris Coons (D-DL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dean Heller (R-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who chairs the Senate subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, outgoing president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, have also called for granting TPS to undocumented Filipinos.


Filipino American groups have praised the bipartisan initiative.

“The TPS will allow undocumented Filipinos to work and send money home to their loved ones, providing a lifeline to thousands of families and helping devastated communities rebuild,” said lawyer Arnedo Valera, executive director of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), one of the groups that have lobbied for TPS for undocumented Filipinos.

“Granting the TPS would be an important gesture for the US to show its compassion and commitment to help the Philippines during a time of tragedy.”

“We are fortunate that our great nation, built on a rich immigrant heritage, has the means to provide help in this time of need,” Valera added.

“TPS is the face of (the United States’) humanity comforting those who experienced tragic loss of great magnitude,” said Los Angeles-based lawyer Joseph Elias of Reeves & Associates.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

In a related development, on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a resolution expressing its commitment to provide relief and reconstruction assistance to the Philippines.
The resolution, introduced last week by Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), also commended the Filipino American community for organizing disaster relief efforts. The resolution also encouraged other nations and international organizations to help the victims rebuild their homes and lives.

TAGS: Global Nation, relief, temporary protected status, TPS, Typhoon “Yolanda”, undocumented Filipinos, us senators

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.