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Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines

The Philippines recently requested that Washington designate the country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The request was made in the devastating wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which has killed more than 6,000 people, displaced more than four million, and affected an estimated 12 million since it struck the Philippines on November 8th, 2013.

What is TPS?
TPS is a temporary, humanitarian form of relief extended to foreign nationals who hail from a country suffering from an ongoing armed conflict or, like the Philippines, a natural calamity that makes it unsafe for them to return. Individuals who receive TPS are not removable from the United States, can obtain work authorization, and may be granted travel authorization. “It’s meant to help people who are in the U.S. and whose conditions in their home country prevent them from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately,” said Claire Nicholson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “It allows them to stay in the U.S. and work until they can safely return home.”  However, as TPS does not lead to permanent resident status, when the designation terminates beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS or to any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS.

Current TPS designated countries include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria.

How Would TPS Benefit the Philippines and Filipino Nationals Now in the U.S.?
A number of public policy objectives would be addressed by a TPS designation for the Philippines. First, given the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan and the ensuing massive relief and restoration efforts, TPS would alleviate the Philippines’ burden of having to reabsorb thousands of its nationals from abroad during this national emergency. Second, TPS would protect Filipinos in the United States from being forced to return to their home countries in the midst of an unprecedented humanitarian calamity. Third, TPS would grant eligible Filipinos here in the United States employment authorization, thereby enabling them to work and send money to support their families in the Philippines and otherwise aid in the recovery process. Indeed, prior to Typhoon Haiyan, remittances from overseas Filipinos equaled nearly 10 percent of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product. Now more than ever, Filipino nationals temporarily living in the U.S. should be empowered to aid in the recovery of their own homeland and to alleviate the tragic consequences befalling the Philippines.

What Role Could the City Bar Justice Center Play In the Event TPS is Designated for the Philippines?
Uniquely able to leverage the resources of the New York City legal community, the City Bar Justice Center is fully prepared to respond in the event the Department of Homeland Security designates the Philippines for TPS. Within two weeks of the Typhoon, the Justice Center worked closely with the New York City Bar Association and its Immigration and Nationality Committee to issue a letter calling upon the Obama Administration to designate the Philippines for TPS.  The Justice Center also has a long track record and tremendous experience organizing large scale legal clinics in response to emerging needs and crises, such as Special Registration following 9/11, Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA), and Hurricane Sandy. Indeed, following the tragic earthquake and subsequent U.S. government designation of TPS for Haiti in January 2010, the Justice Center immediately organized free legal clinics to assist Haitian New Yorkers in navigating the TPS application process. Mobilizing pro bono attorneys from law firms throughout the city, the Justice Center assisted hundreds of Haitian nationals in receiving TPS.

The City Bar Justice Center urges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to designate the Philippines for Temporary Protected Status without further delay, and stands ready to mobilize its vast legal network and resources to aid this disaster-stricken community.

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