ACTION ALERT: Endorse Extension of TPS

NaFFAA Logo

Nov. 22, 2013

Contact:

Bing Cardenas Branigin
bing.branigin@naffaa-national.org
Tel. 202-361-1024

Jon Melegrito
jon.melegrito@naffaa-national.org
Tel. 202-361-0296

NaFFAA Calls on DHS to Grant Temporary Protected Status to Filipinos
Fil-Am Organizations Urged to Endorse Extension of TPS

Washington, D.C. The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate the Philippines as a country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Currently allowed under immigration laws for countries impacted by a natural disaster resulting in a “substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions,” TPS will provide temporary immigration relief to undocumented Filipino immigrants presently residing in the U.S.

In a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Rand Beers, Navarra wrote that “this benefit will alleviate their fears of deportation to a devastated country and allow them to work and stay in the US temporarily. With this authorization, Filipino nationals can continue providing material and financial support to the homeland, especially at a time when they are in dire need of help.”

J.T. Mallonga, NaFFAA National Vice Chair and President of the Filipino American Legal and Defense Fund (FALDEF), explains that there are precedents where the U.S. administration acted on similar requests. “Following the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti two years ago, the U.S designated TPS to Haitian nationals, allowing them to continue living and working in the country for 18 months,” Mallonga said. “The same should be done to Filipinos, and it must be done soon.” Other nationals from countries devastated by natural disasters, such as Honduras , Sudan and El Salvador , have also been granted TPS before.

Mallonga further explains that “while TPS provides temporary legal status for Filipinos already in the US , it will not necessarily lead to permanent residency. Also, TPS does not provide humanitarian aid or legal status for people not already here. TPS may only be granted for 18 months. Beneficiaries will be granted a temporary employment authorization document as proof of authorized stay in the US for that period. Qualified TPS applicants will then be allowed to remain in the US with a work permit. This is only meant to be a temporary immigration benefit.”

When the Obama administration announced the designation of TPS for Haitian nationals in 2011, Mallonga notes that the 100,000 – 200,000 Haitian immigrants estimated by the Department of Homeland Security to be in the U.S. without authorization were not subject to deportation. The estimated 270,000 undocumented Filipino immigrants will similarly be given the same benefit if TPS is granted.

Bi-Partisn Congressional Support. With members of Congress weighing in on the issue, Navarra has conveyed his thanks to a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives who have endorsed the call for TPS.

“Although congressional approval is not required, their strong message of support is very encouraging,” Navarra said. “We hope more members of Congress will do the same.”

In a Nov. 19 letter signed by 20 US Senators, the signatories assert that “Providing TPS is critical to humanitarian relief efforts as it both protects individuals who would be endangered by returning to their country of origin and it allows the home country more time to recover before accepting returnees.” Among those signing the letter are Senators Harry Reid, John McCain, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Mazie K. Hirono, Richard Durbin, Orrin Hatch, Barbara Boxer, Tim Kaine, and Patrick Leahy. On the House side, 30 US Representatives called on DHS to “exercise its authority to designate the Philippines ” for TPS, considering the “daunting rescue and restoration efforts” facing the country. The signatories include Representatives Edward Royce, Zoe Lofgren, Trent Franks. Robert Scott, Xavier Becerra, Judy Chu, Peter King, Colleen Hanabusa, Tammy Duckworth, and Michael Honda.

“We also appreciate what the Obama administration has done to direct much-needed food and relief aid to the affected areas,” Navarra adds. “USAID and the Dept. of Defense have deployed manpower and resources in a timely manner, in addition to providing millions of dollars in emergency assistance.”

Coalition Work. In the days after Typhon Haiyan hit Central Philippines , NaFFAA has been working closely with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and other national advocacy groups to map out a plan of action regarding TPS. In addition to letters to Congress, messages were also sent to the Philippine Embassy and other consulates across the U.S. .

In a letter to Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisa, Jr., Navarra formally called on the Philippine government, “as a matter of courtesy, to formally request the Obama administration to give the matter its utmost consideration.” Navarra emphasized the humanitarian aspect of TPS, “which allows Filipino breadwinners in the U.S. to be able to go home to the Philippines for closure (in case of death in the family) and to get them to rebuild their lives. It is for this humanitarian reason that there is an outpouring of over whelming support from across the country for the designation of TPS status for the Philippines .”

In pressing for a favorable response from the Aquino administration, Navarra points out that TPS provides important remittance benefits that will help the Philippine economy. Remittances back to El Salvador , which made up over half of all export earnings, have been critical to economic development, and exceeded US foreign aid.

Moreover, Navarra says, “TPS will aid the estimated 270,000 undocumented Filipinos in the US , and another 300,000 on temporary visas. This is a very large pool of potentially eligible Filipinos who would be able to stay in the US , obtain work permits, and send remittances to the Philippines .

Public Pressure Needed. “But to make this happen, there must be public pressure from the community because it’s ultimately up to the President to make this designation,” Navarra explains. “I am calling on all Filipino Americans to call or write their US Senators and US Representatives, urging them to pressure the Department of Homeland Security, to act expeditiously on this matter.”

To date, more than 100 national and local Filipino American and civic organizations have signified their endorsements. They include the AFL-CIO, American Immigration Council, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the United Methodist Church, Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV), NANAY, Council for Filipino American Organizations of Central Florida, Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Order of the Knights (New York Chapter), Uplift International (Denver, Colo.), Federation of Filipino American Organizations of Georgia, and the Philippine-American Society of Greater Dayton.

Call to Action:

Call or Send letters/faxes/e-mails to:

  1. Your US Senator and US Representative
  2. Hon. Jose L. Cuisa, Jr.
    Philippine Ambassador to the U.S.
    1600 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington , DC 20036
    ambassador@philippinesusa.org
    Tel. (202) 467-9300
  3. Hon. Rand Beers
    Acting Secretary
    Department of Homeland Security
    3801 Nebraska Ave, NW
    Washington , D.C. 20528

US Senators Endorsing TPS:

  • Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • Christ Coons (D-DE)
  • Richard Durbin (D-IL)
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UTAH)
  • Dean Heller (D-NV)
  • Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
  • Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Mark Kirk (R-IL)
  • Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Edward Markey (D-MASS)
  • John McCain (R-AZ)
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • Marco Rubio (D-FL)
  • Brian Schatz (D-HI)

US Representatives Endorsing TPS:

  • Xavier Becerra (D-31st-CA)
  • Madeleine Bordallo (D-At Large GU)
  • Judy Chu (D-32nd-CA)
  • Mario Diaz-Balart (R-21st-FL)
  • Tammy Duckworth (D-8th-IL)
  • Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D-At Large AS)
  • Trent Franks (R-2nd-AZ)
  • Joe Garcia (D-26th-FL)
  • Al Green (D-9th-TX)
  • Raul Grijalva (D-7th-AZ)
  • Janice Hahn (D-44th-CA)
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-1st-HI)
  • Michael Honda (D-15th-CA)
  • Peter King (R-3rd-NY)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-16th-CA)
  • Alan Lowenthal (D-47th-CA)
  • Grace Meng (D-6th-NY)
  • Grace Napolitano (D-38th-CA)
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-18th-FL)
  • Edward Royce (R-40th-CA)
  • Robert Scott (D-3rd-VA)
  • Adam Schiff (D-29th-CA)
  • Eric Swalwell (D-15th-CA)
  • Christopher Smith (R-4th-NJ)
  • Mark Takano (D-41st-CA)
  • Mike Thompson (D-1st-CA)
  • David Valadao (R-21st-CA)
  • Ted Yoho (R-3rd-FL)

Civic, labor and religious organizations endorsing TPS:

  1. 18MillionRising.org
  2. AFL-CIO
  3. Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment
  4. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  5. Americans for Immigrant Justice
  6. American Immigration Council
  7. American Immigration Lawyers Association
  8. American Jewish Committee
  9. Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home)
  10. Arab American Institute
  11. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
  12. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
  13. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  14. Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago
  15. Asian American Federation of Florida
  16. Asian American Legal Advocacy Center
  17. Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  18. Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona
  19. Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
  20. Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
  21. California Immigrant Policy Center
  22. Campaign for Community Change
  23. Church World Service
  24. Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
  25. Fair Immigration Reform Movement
  26. Filipino American Association of Brevard County, Florida Inc.
  27. Florida Immigration Coalition
  28. Florida ‘s Space Coast Filipino American Charitable and Educational Foundation Inc.
  29. Franciscan Action Network
  30. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
  31. HIAS
  32. Hispanic Federation
  33. Hmong-American Partnership, Fox Valley Inc.
  34. Hmong National Development, Inc.
  35. Hmong Nationality Organization
  36. Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  37. Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
  38. Immigrant Legal Resource Center
  39. Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress – DC Chapter
  40. Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
  41. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  42. NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  43. NANAY Community Economic Development Corporation
  44. National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity
  45. National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
  46. National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
  47. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  48. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Arizona Chapter
  49. National Council of Jewish Women
  50. National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)
  51. National Immigrant Justice Center
  52. National Immigration Forum
  53. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  54. National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
  55. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  56. Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network
  57. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
  58. South Asian American Policy & Research Institute
  59. South Asian Americans Leading Together
  60. Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
  61. Tacoma Community House
  62. The Episcopal Church
  63. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  64. United We Dream
  65. United Methodist Church , General Board of Church and Society
  66. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  67. Wisconsin United Coalition of Mutual Assistance Associations, Inc.
  68. World Relief
  69. American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV)
  70. Council for Filipino American Organizations of Central Florida
  71. Order of the Knights Metro Orlando
  72. Order of the Knights New York Chapter
  73. La Comunidad de Zamboahga de Nueva York
  74. Mending Fences, Denver , Colorado
  75. Filipino American Association of Philadelphia
  76. Uplift Internationale ( Denver , Colo)
  77. NANAY (National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and the Youth)
  78. Federation of Filipino American Organizations of Georgia
  79. Philippine-American Society of Greater Dayton
  80. Filipino American Ladies Organization of Dayton (OH)

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