They can’t return to typhoon-hit homes, senator says
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Filipino nationals living in the US should be allowed to remain here while their typhoon-ravaged communities recover and rebuild, according to US Senator Charles Schumer.
New York’s senior senator and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, leader of New York’s Catholics, called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipino nationals currently residing in the United States.
The TPS program is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to foreign nationals from countries devastated by natural disasters. It would allow Filipino nationals, now legally in the country, to stay in the U.S. for a set period of time while their home nation recovers.
The typhoon hit the Philippines on Nov. 8.
There is a precedent for granting such protected status to nationals living in the US, according to Schumer, who said that in response to past natural disasters, the U.S. has extended TPS to Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti. Schumer said he is asking that Filipino nationals be granted TPS to prevent possible deportation to a ravaged country.
“This is a compassionate and commonsense action that will remove a burden of worry from Filipino nationals legally residing here in the states whose visas may expire and may otherwise be required to return home,” Schumer said. “Obviously, it makes no sense to return these people to a devastated country and we should extend the TPS status until the Philippines is back on its feet."
“Typhoon Haiyan had a destructive force almost unmatched in our planet’s history, and caused unspeakable devastation to one of America’s closest allies and friends. As the Philippines recovers from this disaster, the U.S. can help in many ways, including granting Temporary Protected Status to Filipino nationals legally residing here in the U.S., which will provide reprieve to those in danger of being deported or in violation of law for overstaying their visa,” Schumer said.
On Friday, NBC News reported that the death toll from the typhoon had reached 5,200.
Once they are granted TPS, individuals cannot be deported. They can obtain an employment authorization document and may be granted travel authorization. In addition, individuals cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status.
Schumer wrote to President Obama and urged him to support TPS for Filipino nationals currently residing in the United States. Schumer made the case that a TPS designation would not engender an influx of illegal immigration because it is unlikely that Filipinos would be able to enter the United States, given how difficult it is to leave the country due to Typhoon Haiyan. Schumer explained that TPS would only be made available to Filipino nationals who are already in the United States and may be otherwise subject to deportation.