Open letter to President Aquino for TPS

Pres. Benigno Aquino: Please make that request

Pres. Benigno Aquino: Please make that request

By Atty. Rio Guerrero

Since Typhoon Haiyan first wrought its devastation on the Philippines over a month ago, Filipinos and people all over the world have rushed to provide relief and recovery to the Filipino people.

Here, in the United States, the movement to deliver valuable and lasting humanitarian relief to Filipinos began immediately and continues to grow in size, and gather momentum today.

A vital component of direct and long-term relief and rebuilding for the Philippines and its people lay in the hands of half a million Filipinos currently living in the United States. The immeasurable human calamity of Typhoon Haiyan qualifies the Philippines for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) pursuant to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 244.

TPS is available to a country when certain conditions exist within that country, such as a natural disaster, that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from safely returning home. Certainly, for the Philippines to reabsorb hundreds of thousands of its nationals currently abroad during this national emergency would only burden further an already strained infrastructure dealing with the most horrific typhoon ever recorded to hit land in the world.

TPS allows certain Filipino nationals in the United States to:
1. remain legally in the United States even if he/she is potentially or deemed deportable;
2. receive authorization to travel internationally; and
3. obtain work authorization – a benefit that will deliver an immediate and lasting positive impact on the Philippine people and the Philippine economy.

It is estimated that half a million Filipinos within the U.S. would be eligible for TPS. The current U.S. immigration law and policy in place does not provide the relief set forth above to those 500,000 Filipinos who may potentially benefit from TPS.

Studies have documented an increase in income of at least 15 percent when individuals are granted work authorization. Prior to Typhoon Haiyan, 10 percent of the Philippine Gross Domestic Product was attributed to remittances from its nationals abroad. TPS provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the Philippine economy during its time of need, and allows Filipino nationals living in the United States to contribute to rebuilding their country through the form of increased remittances.

The Philippines is a proud and burgeoning nation comprised of a hard-working and resilient people. The world understands that this unprecedented natural disaster could have befallen any nation. It also empathizes with the unique humanitarian and economic difficulties brought on by this natural disaster.

The world economy understands that TPS is an opportunity for proud Filipinos here in the United States to help rebuild their country. Evidenced by the national movement involving U.S. citizens, politicians, faith-leaders and others here in our country, the U.S. government and its citizenry clearly support TPS for the Philippines.

In order for Temporary Protected Status to be granted, the U.S. government requires a written request from the Philippine government. We understand that, in good faith, the Philippine government is considering whether to request TPS for the Philippines. But, to date, the Philippine government has not yet made that request.
From this heartbreaking human tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippine government can create hope and opportunity for half a million Filipinos in the United States by empowering them to help the country they love so dearly.

Today, united with hundreds of organizations throughout the United States, millions of Filipinos and non-Filipinos here and all over the world, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as scores of U.S. Senators and Representatives from all political parties, we respectfully request that President Benigno Aquino III issue immediately to the U.S. government, a written request seeking Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines.

Attorney Rio Guerrero is a partner with the immigration law firm Guerrero Yee LLP headquartered in New York City. He is an advocate for immigrants’ rights and a recipient of the coveted “Best Lawyers” award granted by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He can be reached at or 646-545-5000.


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