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PH seeks protected status for Filipinos in the US due to Yolanda
By: Eric Apolonio, December 16, 2013
MANILA, Philippines - Following the deaths and destruction caused by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the Philippines formally requested the U.S. government to place the country under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.
The TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to foreigners in the U.S. who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
If a country is placed under TPS, its eligible citizens may stay and work in the U.S.
A TPS does not, however, lead to a beneficiary’s permanent resident status. If the U.S. government terminates the TPS, beneficiaries would revert to the same immigration status they had before TPS.
Placing the Philippines under TPS will allow eligible Filipinos to stay and work in the U.S. "in order for them to assist in the country's continuing recovery efforts," following the typhoon killing over 6,000 and affecting 16 million Filipinos, the DFA said.
The request will be evaluated first by US authorities. "If approved, eligible Filipinos can start filing their applications which will be reviewed on a case-to-case basis, the DFA said.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. conveyed the request on December 13 to the Department of Homeland Security through a note verbale sent to the U.S. Department of State.
If the request is granted, the Philippines will join four other countries - El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras – that were placed under TPS after going through similar natural disasters.
Spearheading the drive for the Philippines to be placed under TPS are Filipino community leaders based in New York headed by lawyer JT Mallonga of the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. and Ed Navarra, chairman of National Federation of Filipino-American Association.
Earlier Mallonga told newsman that” while we are prepared to exhaust all means to get this to the attention of the President; time is certainly of the essence."
"(T)his is neither a legal nor a political issue, but a humanitarian one and we hope that our President will act swiftly on this request from literally almost a million Filipinos in the U.S.," added Mallonga.