In ‘Yolanda’’s wake, US senators seek relief for Filipino illegals | Global News

In ‘Yolanda’’s wake, US senators seek relief for Filipino illegals

/ 09:27 AM November 23, 2013

AP photo

LOS ANGELES—Twenty US senators have sought Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for undocumented Filipinos currently living in the United States while the Philippines continues to grapple with the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”).

TPS allows undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States if returning to their homeland would be unsafe due to conflict or national disaster. It was granted to Nicaraguans and Hondurans in the United States 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.


“Supertyphoon 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 (DHS) Acting Secretary Rand Beers. “Victims of supertyphoon 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.”


‘Whatever possible way’

“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).


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TAGS: illegal immigrants, Overseas Filipino workers, Supertyphoon Yolanda, temporary protected status, TNT

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