By Gel Santos Relos
Many kababayans continue to send me messages and emails, inquiring about updates on the requested Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Philippines. Four months after the Philippines was ravaged by Haiyan (Yolanda), there are those who have begun to wonder if TPS for the Philippines would be granted at all.
If approved by the US government, TPS will provide visa relief for qualified Filipinos with expired or expiring visas, allowing them to temporarily live in America without threat of deportation. They will receive work and travel authorization as well.
The TPS was requested by various Filipino-American groups, in order to enable undocumented Filipinos in America to help in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of typhoon-ravaged areas, caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in November of last year.
Let me share with you the latest information shared with me by TPS’ primary proponent, The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC). MHC is a Fil-Am organization based in Washington DC. Here is an excerpt of the email sent to me by Atty. Arnedo Valera, one of MHC’s executive directors:
David P. Arulantham , Philippine Desk Officer , Department of State called me today and gave me this update. According to him: “TPS process is moving along, and they are getting closer and closer in regards to the recommendation for TPS for the Philippines. The facts have been laid out and it is now in the desk of Secretary Kerry for review and final decision, after which it will be sent to the DHS Secretary.”
My teleconference call meeting with David [was] very positive. And there is no doubt in my mind that Sec. Kerry will make a favorable decision, recommending TPS for the Philippines. My optimism [was] shared by Ambassador Cuisia, during my informal meeting with him two weeks ago at the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition assembly at the Phil. Embassy.
All organizations and individuals supporting MHC’s initial call for TPS should stay and remain positive that President Obama [and] the US Dept. of Homeland Security will do the right thing. MHC is calling all organizations to refrain from engaging in “rhetorical remarks “ and negative comments linking TPS approval to President Obama’s visit in the Philippines. There are other important and significant matters involved in President Obama’s state visit in the Philippines that is mutually beneficial to the national interests of both countries.
Let the established protocol and process take its course. MHC strongly believes that [the] Philippines will be designated under [the] TPS program in due time. The Department of Homeland Security is authorized, under Section 244 (b) of the INA, to designate a country under TPS .
In the history of TPS designation, all the countries now under the TPS program, the recommendations made by the Department of State have been followed by the Department of Homeland Security. MHC has always believed that [the] TPS designation of the Philippines should be an integral part of the humanitarian assistance by the US government to the Philippines.
TPS was initiated and pioneered by the Legal Resources Program of the Migrant Heritage Commission (on November 11, 2013, 3 days after Haiyan /Yolanda) on separate letters to President Obama, Secretary Kerry of the Dept. of State and then Acting Secretary of DHS, Sec. Beers.
On November 10, two days after Haiyan/Yolanda , I presented the plan to my co-executive directors, Jesse Gatchalian and Grace Valera-Jaramillo to call for TPS designation for the Philippines. MHC likewise convinced President Aquino to make [the] same request for TPS. Since then, MHC’s voice in the wilderness has evolved into a national clarion call for TPS by several organizations and individuals.
Our call for TPS is a collective effort of various organizations and individuals who believe that TPS designation of the Philippines should be an integral part of the humanitarian assistance extended by the US government to the Philippines. Let us all stay positive and be united for [this] TPS call!! Mabuhay and God bless our community.
Arnedo S. Valera, Esq.
Jesse Gatchalian Executive Directors,
Migrant Heritage Commission
MHC 'S LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: