DHS responds to calls for TPS via public engagement

DHS Legal Counsel Rob Silver (left) responds to Loida Lewis founder of Pinoys for Good Governance and JT Mallonga of Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund who urged DHS to grant TPS to Filipino nationals at the DHS headquarters in Washington DC on Feb. 13.  Photo by NAFFAA

DHS Legal Counsel Rob Silver (left) responds to Loida Lewis founder of Pinoys for Good Governance and JT Mallonga of Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund who urged DHS to grant TPS to Filipino nationals at the DHS headquarters in Washington DC on Feb. 13. Photo by NAFFAA

One hundred days after Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines resulting in massive loss of life and destruction of property, the national movement for Temporary Protected Status for Filipinos in the U.S. received a response from the Department of Homeland Security, which announced its intent for public engagement around this issue. DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will be meeting with community members and stakeholders will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2014 in Washington, DC.

“This is a very positive development. The Department of Homeland Security has recognized the importance of this issue and responded to the thousands of calls, emails and signatures urging them to grant TPS for the Philippines by holding a week of public engagement,” Aquilina SorianoVersoza, Executive Director, Pilipino Workers Center.

The announcement comes after months of organizing and advocacy efforts by Filipinos and allies across the U.S. Relief 2 Recovery, a broad national campaign of over 100Filipino community, immigrant rights, legal and advocacy organizations, is planning to increase pressure on both DHS and the State Department. The community is ready to bring the public action to the week of public engagement.

Coordinated actions are planned in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC over the weekend to demonstrate the continued necessity of TPS and to build momentum for the public engagement. Actions will include call-ins, education and updates, and dramatic portrayals of the nation-wide effects of the typhoon. The weekend activities will kick off a week of action for TPS including delegations to DC, public actions and press events..

“It is essential that the U.S. government continue to see our resolve on this issue,” says Leah Obias, Campaigns Coordinator of Damayan Migrant Workers Association. ” We are happy that DHS has responded, but believe that the Filipino people have waited long enough. Millions are still living in temporary shelters, millions are still suffering.”

Typhoon Haiyan created a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in the Philippines, and thecountry remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals. One hundred days after the disaster, only an estimated 1000 houses have been built of the 1.1 million houses that were destroyed or severely damaged as reported by the United Nations.Representative from the National Filipino American Lawyers Association, Rio Guererro emphasizes, “The Philippines must continue to place its focus on aiding the victims displaced by the typhoon who are seeking shelter in other parts of the country. TPS will allow the country to concentrate on the needs of vulnerable individuals following Yolanda without also having to ensure the safety and reintegration of individuals returning to the country who may no longer have homes or families to support them.”

To take part in actions, contact Ben de Guzman in Washington, DC,bdeguzman@gmail.com, Leah Obias in New York, 212-564-6057; or Aquilina Soriano in Los Angeles, 213-422-3341



Leave a Reply