CHICAGO (JGL) – A Filipino American human rights and civic group urged anew President Obama to grant administrative relief called Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to compliment the approval of a department order called Temporary Protective Status (TPS) following the devastation of the Philippines by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) on Nov. 8, 2013.
In a letter addressed to President Obama and Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary for Policy and Chief Diplomatic Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, lawyer Arnedo S. Valera of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) based in Fairfax, Virginia, said “it has been nine months since Nov. 11, 2013 when MHC, a non-profit organization, first requested for the designation of the Philippines as a TPS country by writing “Your Excellency, then DHS Secretary Beers and Department of State Secretary Kerry” but until now TPS has yet to be granted.
Valera, co-executive director of MHC, said his call for TPS designation has been supported by members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the American Immigration Lawyers association (AILA), the New York Bar Association, the New York City Council and other state legislatures, the U.S. Conference of Bishops and 141 non-government organizations, as well as President Noynoy Aquino.
In response, the Department of State conducted consultations with various Filipino organizations, including the MHC and made its recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security. To date, however, the request for TPS designation remains stuck with the Department of Homeland Security.
The letter, co-signed by co-executive directors Grace Valera-Jaramillo and Jesse A. Gatchalian, said the devastating effects of the super typhoon persist.
It said the Philippine government, which is highly dependent on remittances of its nationals abroad to keep its economy afloat, is facing the herculean tasks of recovering from Haiyan and other calamities, the return of hundreds of workers from troubled Middle East and a looming territorial dispute and security issue with an assertive China.
The Philippines, the letter said, remains unable to handle adequately the return of its nationals, most of whom have no jobs or homes to return to because of Haiyan and the confluence of these events.
The MHC urged President Obama to use his executive authority to grant alternative immigration/administrative relief for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to nationals of the Philippines that would enable them to temporarily stay and work in the U.S.
It said President George W. Bush issued a DED to nationals of the Peoples Republic of China in 1990. President Clinton extended this relief to Haiti in 1997.
President George H. W. Bush, noting that despite the “progress in Liberia,” cited “political and economic conditions in the country that justify deferred departure” in granting DED to nationals of Liberia in 2007. And even President Obama extended DED for Liberian nationals in March, 2013.
The letter said that while the U.S. and its citizens have done much in extending humanitarian relief and assistance to the Philippines, it is still asking for the grant of DED and TPS for Philippine nationals “to enable them to temporarily stay and work in the U.S. as an important compliment to the U.S. disaster and humanitarian aid response to the devastation left by Haiyan.”