We, Filipino-Americans, should support a move to grant a temporary protected status (TPS) to the Philippines. The TPS would benefit undocumented Filipinos in Michigan and other states as this would allow them to stay temporarily in the US without the threat of deportation dangling over their heads.
Last Dec. 13, it was reported that more than 100 community, civic, church and labor organizations aired their support for the TPS bid shortly after it was announced that President Aquino had formally requested the US government to grant TPS for undocumented Filipinos now in the US due to the devastation caused by typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas regions.
According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country for TPS when there is an ongoing armed conflict or a massive environmental disaster in that country. Such conflict and disaster would temporarily prevent the nationals of that country from returning safely to their home land.
AILA said that ordinarily, a country must first request a TPS before the secretary of homeland security grants the designation. Once the request for TPS designation is approved, the nationals of that country residing in the US receive temporary relief from deportation and are issued temporary work permits. However, this does not lead to an eventual grant of a permanent resident status.
Who is eligible for TPS? You have to be a national of a country designated for TPS. You must register for TPS during the registration period and demonstrate continuous physical presence in the US up to the date of designation. You are not eligible for TPS if you have committed any felony or two or more cases of misdemeanor in the US.
According to AILA, TPS benefits include not being removed from US and work and travel authorizations. You cannot be detained by DHS due to your undocumented status as an alien in the US.
Ed Navarra, national chairman of National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), and Attorney J.T. Malonga, president of the Filipino American Legal Defense Fund (FALDEF), are spearheading the advocacy for TPS. According to Malonga, the TPS designation of the Philippines is a humanitarian act that would allow Filipino breadwinners in the US to be able to go home to the Philippines for closure (in case of death in the family) and to help them rebuild their lives.
Filipino-Americans are being requested to sign a petition asking President Obama to direct the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to designate the Philippines as a country with TPS.