CHICAGO (JGL) – More than a month after a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official assured the Filipino American community that the request for the grant of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for undocumented Filipinos in the US “is under consideration by Secretary Jeh Johnson,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto F. Del Rosario called anew on Sept. 22 both Secretary John Kerry of the U.S. State Department and Johnson of DHS reiterating the Philippine government’s request.
In letters addressed to Kerry and Johnson, Del Rosario underscored the importance of the request, saying its approval would not only alleviate the plight of eligible Filipinos in the US but also greatly ease the strain placed on the country’s infrastructure and resources.
“I take this opportunity to once again reiterate the Philippine Government’s request for the US Government’s immediate positive consideration of the request,” Del Rosario said. “Many of my countrymen in the US were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. This humanitarian assistance would provide temporary relief for them from the natural disaster.”
According to a Philippine Embassy statement of Aug. 13, 2014, it said that after a dialogue arranged by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin told Filipino American community leaders the DHS is still in the process of evaluating Manila’s request.
“This is a matter that is under consideration by Secretary Jeh Johnson. There are no specific deadlines but this does require the kind of outreach, time and consideration that it is being given,” Bersin told the Embassy’s Radyo Tambuli after the meeting.
“I know my colleagues in the government understand the urgency of the situation and the necessity for due deliberation,” said Bersin, also the Department’s Chief Diplomatic Officer, when asked if a decision on the Philippine request was forthcoming.
The Philippine government formally filed for TPS designation in December, a few weeks after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in history, devastated the Central Visayas, killing more than 6,000 people and severely affecting more than 1.4 million others in 17 provinces.
Secretary Del Rosario said a TPS designation for the Philippines will allow more than 200,000 undocumented Filipinos to stay and work legally in the US for at least 18 months.
In previous years, the US granted the same immigration relief to undocumented aliens from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti after these countries were struck by natural disasters and subsequently placed under TPS.
ASSURED COMMUNITY OF PH GOV’T SUPPORT
On Wednesday, Sept. 24, Del Rosario met with leaders of the Filipino-American community led by lawyer J.T. Mallonga, chair of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NAFFAA). He assured them of the full support of the Philippine Government in pushing the TPS request.
“We stand with you on this issue,” Del Rosario said, adding that the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Consulates General in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam will continue to work with the Filipino-American community in this initiative.
Del Rosario also told the Filipino-American community leaders that he will personally follow up this issue when he meets with US officials in Washington this Thursday, Sept. 25.
In his letters to Kerry and Johnson, Del Rosario reminded them that “in a little over six weeks, the world will observe the first year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan. While the memory of the devastation still lingers in the mind and psyche of the Filipino people, we have not forgotten the unprecedented outpouring of international support for the Philippines.”
“We will always remember and cherish the invaluable and immediate assistance provided by the United States in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan,” Del Rosario said as he cited the overwhelming and timely response of Washington, which not only provided troops, ships and aircraft but also more than $86 million in assistance.
“However, almost one year after the calamity, there is still much to be done. Massive investments and necessary expertise are still necessary to continue the reconstruction work,” Secretary Del Rosario said.