NEW development! “US Secretary of State John Kerry has already made his review and recommendation regarding the request for TPS designation of the Philippines, and that recommendation has been sent to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS,)” TPS primary proponent Atty. Arnedo Valera enthusiastically reported to me, after he got another call on March 20 from David P. Arulanantham, Philippine Desk Officer of the State Department.
This TPS status has been confirmed to Balitang America by State Department Spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala.
What has not been confirmed though, is if Kerry’s recommendation is indeed in favor of TPS for the Philippines. If ever it is, whether it will be a full or partial TPS (limited only to those who have families that are directly affected by Typhoon Yolanda) remains to be seen.
Fil-Am advocates remain optimistic about the recommendation. However, it is important to stress that this is NOT yet a done deal.
Atty. Valera called for positivity and unity in the Filipino community, and reminded us not to let up.
Therefore here is a very important and critical opportunity for all our kababayans to come together as one. March 27, Thursday has been designated by a coalition of Fil-Am groups as “Community Call to Action Day for TPS for the Philippines”.
Fil-Am community leader Atty. Rodel Rodis of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) emailed me this press statement, which I am sharing with you. This is the last leg of this marathon. Will you join in the crusade for TPS for the Philippines?
“The March 27 Call for Action was agreed to by a coalition of Filipino-American community groups in a national telephone conference call held on March 18, to discuss the status of the campaign to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the Philippines, a move that may benefit approximately 200,000 Filipinos in the United States who are currently out-of -status.
Arnedo Valera of the Migrant Heritage Commission, the Washington D.C. group which initiated the call for TPS for the Philippines last November, reported that Philippine Desk Officer David Arulanantham at the US Department of State confirmed that the favorable recommendation for TPS for the Philippines is now on the desk of Secretary John Kerry, awaiting his review and signature. [as stated above, recommendation has been submitted to DHS]
‘This positive development is the result of our community’s unified campaign to lobby the State Department,’ said Loida Nicolas-Lewis, national chair for US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), who moderated the March 18 national conference call.
‘We must not let up now. We’re close but we’re not there yet. We need to continue to lobby the US government until TPS is finally approved for the Philippines,’ added Jon Melegrito, spokesman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
Under US immigration law, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of State, may designate a country, or portions of a country, for TPS when conditions exist – such as an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster in the country – that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals in the US from returning safely.
Once a country receives TPS designation, nationals of that country residing in the US would not be deportable and may receive temporary legal status that allows them to receive employment authorization and even permission to travel abroad.
Community groups represented at the conference call were urged to ask everyone they know, even non-Filipinos, regardless of their immigration status in the US, to call the US State Department , DHS, and the White House Comment Lines on Thursday, March 27. People can call those message boards even before March 27 but an extra effort should be made to call in on March 27 [NOTE: You can call even after the 27th, if a decision has not been made by then. Contact numbers and what to say are stated below.]
When Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, the US government granted TPS to Haitian citizens in the US extending them temporary legal status in the US for a period of 18 months. This has been extended several times since then because Haiti has still not recovered from the damage of the earthquake.
Last year, the US government extended TPS to Syria because of the civil war that is raging there. Aside from Syria, Sudan and South Sudan were also granted TPS in 2013. Other countries that have also received TPS designation in past years include El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia and Honduras as a result of devastating natural calamities that have occurred in those countries.
A bipartisan group of 20 US senators, led by New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), sent a letter to Pres. Barack Obama urging him to grant TPS to the Philippines. ‘Typhoon Haiyan has wrought unparalleled destruction and tragic loss of life in the Philippines,’ declared the senators in their letter to Pres. Obama.
‘Victims of Typhoon Haiyan clearly meet the eligibility requirements for TPS, and we urge you to extend this designation as soon as possible. The United States has demonstrated its commitment to assisting the Philippines with the recovery effort through foreign aid, military assistance and relief supplies,’ the letter added.
‘There are officially at least 200,000 Filipinos in the US who are out of status and would greatly benefit from TPS designation of the Philippines,’ said J.T. Mallonga. spokesman of the Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund (FALDEF) based in New York.
‘Their hopes that the Philippines would be granted TPS are buoyed by the fact that Pres. Obama has supported immigration reform that would legalize the status of 11 million people in the US and that he will be visiting the Philippines in April of 2014 and could present the Philippines with a special gift,’ Mallonga added.’Granting TPS to the Philippines would allow hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in the US to send billions of dollars of their income to the Philippines to aid an economy that was devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda,’ said Dr. Celia Lamkin, a TPS advocate from Saipan who participated in the March 18 conference call.
‘For the sake of our mother country, we urge all Filipinos in the US to save the date and make the time to call the State Department, DHS and the White House on March 27,’ said Loida Nicolas-Lewis.”
Who to call
STATE DEPARTMENT Comment Line: (202)647-6575
Press: 4 for operator then ask for comment line. After message press # and then 2 to make priority and then # to send.
MESSAGE: “Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines must be designated. I urge Secretary of State John Kerry and request that the Department of State recommend to the Department of Homeland Security that full TPS be designated for the Philippines. My name is (say name) from (say city and state).”
DHS Comment Line: (202)282-8495
MESSAGE: “Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines must be designated. I urge Department of Homeland Security that full TPS be designated for the Philippines. My name is (say name) from (say city and state).”
WHITE HOUSE Comment Line: (202)456-1111
MESSAGE: “Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines must be designation. I urge President Obama that full TPS be designated for the Philippines. My name is (say name) from (say city and state).”
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos