While the U.S. is directing much-needed food and relief aid to the Philippines, another way we can help limit the strain on that country's resources is by designating the Philippines for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under §244(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Just less than four years ago, DHS and USCIS acted quickly in a very similar circumstance to designate Haiti for TPS after a massive earthquake. That response can and should be repeated for the Philippines.
Typhoon Yolanda followed on the heels of the deadly Bohol earthquake and had devastating effects on the Philippines and upon relatives and friends of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the U.S. With 1.9 million homeless and more than 600,000 displaced, everyone area in the Philippines as they are absorbing those that have been displaced. For the Philippines to reabsorb thousands of its nationals currently abroad during this national emergency would only burden an already strained infrastructure.
TPS is a temporary form of humanitarian aid that will empower Filipinos here in the US to more effectively aid their own home country. Filipino immigrants are already sending back millions of dollars in remittances every year. TPS would ensure that Filipinos in the U.S. would be protected from deportation and granted work authorization to enable them to continue working.
We therefore are calling upon the Obama Administration to act quickly to grant Temporary Protected Status to the Philippines.