Communities step up pressure on TPS approval

Organizations across the country gather in front of the White House to press for the grant of TPS to Filipino immigrants. TheFilAmLA Photos

Organizations across the country gather in front of the White House to press for the grant of TPS to Filipino immigrants. TheFilAmLA Photos

As President Obama was preparing for his state visit to the Philippines, Filipino American communities across the U.S. had staged numerous campaigns to call on the White House to lobby for the passage of the Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines in the aftermath of the most destructive typhoon disaster to hit landfall.

On April 25, groups led by the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) in LA and the Relief 2 Recovery composed of caregivers, domestic workers, immigrant advocates, attorneys, students and faith leaders rallied in front of the White House.

“More than 60 advocates for the TPS were there, with us including veterans,” said Aqui Versoza, executive director of the PWC. “Los Angeles had a big delegation, but New York has the largest delegation.”

Speakers included Versoza, Leah Oblas from Damayan, Lillian Galedo from Filipino Advocates for Justice from the Bay Area, Attorney Heather Benno from the ANSWER Coalition, and Ben De Guzman from the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.

PWC’s Aqui Versoza

PWC’s Aqui Versoza

A community leader who requested anonymity was critical of the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) this week between Obama and Aquino because it is not specific whether the U.S. would defend the Philippines against any country laying territorial claims, such as the ongoing conflict with China over the Spratlys.

But he was emphatic that the passage of TPS at the same time of the EDCA signing “could signal a good faith effort that the U.S. cares about the relief welfare of more than 300,000 undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. who could help rebuild the country from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

The FilAm community has urged President Barack Obama to finally grant TPS for the Philippines before he left for the Philippines. The TPS proposal, has been with the Department of Homeland Security since March, said Versoza.

Versoza told TheFilAmLA that although hundreds of letters have been sent to the White House, “they said just keep talking to DHS.”

The group Relief 2 Recovery said in a press statement that all forms of humanitarian aid to the Philippines should continue even five months after super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). The Philippines made the request following the onslaught of Yolanda, which left more than 6,000 dead. More bodies are being recovered until now as requests for humanitarian assistance continue.

A TPS is granted to foreign nationals in the U.S. when the conditions in their home countries prevent them from returning.

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