This piece is a follow-up of my previous column about the “temporary protected status” (TPS) being sought by the Philippines from the United States. If granted, the TPS would greatly help our native country recover from the massive devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Visayas.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III was earlier hailed by Filipino-American leaders for formally asking the US government to grant TPS to the Philippines. Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, Jr. presented the formal request by forwarding it to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Randy Beers.
The request for TPS was filed in the third week of December 2013, but up to the present the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to act on it.
The Commission on Filipino Overseas had earlier said that the Philippines qualifies for the grant of the TPS because
of the massive and widespread devastation wreaked by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines with the death toll surpassing the 6,000 mark. Hundreds of thousands of people were rendered homeless.
The TPS request is being supported by several community organizations as well as private groups. These include the National Council of Asian and Pacific Associations (NCAPA) based in Washington D.C. The National Federation of Filipino
American Associations (NaFFAA), the umbrella organization of Filipino American groups across US, presented its endorsement of the request to the Obama administration.
A TPS is usually granted by the United States to countries ravaged by disasters. Eligible nationals of countries given TPS are provided immigration relief if they are illegally staying here in the US. Also, immigrants eligible for relief are given priority in the processing of the immigration applications of the members of their families.
TPS is important because it complements the efforts to provide immediate relief to the disaster victims and boost the recovery efforts.
What should we do now to facilitate the issuance of the TPS to Philippines?
The focus is now shifted to the Department of State which is being asked to give a favorable recommendation of the request to the DHS.
We can help in the effort to facilitate the grant of the TPS by joining a national movement which seeks the TPS designation of the Philippines. Called “Relief 2 Recovery,” the group is taking the lead in asking the State Department to forward a positive recommendation to DHS. Without the State Department’s recommendation, DHS will not act on the request for TPS.
Relief 2 Recovery is requesting members of local organizations and their friends to sign the MoveOn.org petition in support of TPS. To sign the petition, visit http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/relief-2-recovery-temporary. For this particular purpose, we need to have a strong Filipino voice all over United States. This is the time for us to unite.