WASHINGTON – Filipino-American community leaders have urged members and their friends, even non-Filipinos, to appeal to Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Philippines, a move that could benefit as many as 300,000 Filipinos in the United States currently out of status.
They set March 27 as a Call for Action Day and said everyone, regardless of their immigration status, should telephone the State Department and urge Kerry to recommend TPS for the Philippines to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Philippine government formally requested Washington in December for immigration relief measures to allow eligible Filipinos to stay and work in the United States so they could support the country’s long-term recovery efforts in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda which killed more than 6,000 people.
Under US immigration law, the secretary of the DHS, 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 – that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals in the US from returning safely.
Once a country receives a 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 permission to travel abroad.
“We must not let up now. We need to continue to lobby the US government until TPS is approved for the Philippines,” said Jon Melegrito, spokesman of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).