San Francisco Legislators Unanimously Approve Resolution in Support of Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines
San Francisco, CA – On Tuesday, February 11, on the 3-month mark of Super-Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines, San Francisco legislators along with dozens of Bay Area residents and organizations mobilized on City Hall to call for Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines (TPS). The action culminated with a unanimous vote, amongst the eleven Board of Supervisors, to pass a resolution calling for the U.S. government to grant TPS for the Philippines.
Harold Butanas, a victim of human trafficking that participated in the mobilization and who does not have work authorization explained why TPS is important to him, “My entire neighborhood was wiped out. My house is gone. Without TPS, I cannot work and send money back to help support my family.” Butanas has a wife and kids living in the Philippines and is their primary source of livelihood.
Supervisor Avalos who co-authored the resolution added, “There is still so much devastation in a country that needs the support of its own people including the many people who are here as immigrants, who are workers, who are often working undocumented and who want to be able to stay here and contribute to our local economy and also contribute to the rebuilding effort in the Philippines. Granting TPS will aid the Philippines which is reeling from 4.1 million people who are have become homeless as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.”
TPS, if granted, provides Filipino nationals protection from deportation, authorization to work, and eligibility to travel. The measure is a humanitarian provision of U.S. immigration law offered to countries that can no longer receive deportees due to national instability caused by war or natural calamities such as Super-Typhoon Haiyan.
TPS is an administrative measure that does not require congressional approval. Although the authority to grant TPS resides with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it has communicated that it will not do so without a positive recommendation from the Department of State (DOS) who is expected to make its decision within the next week.
Throughout the U.S., a national movement has formed to push for TPS to be granted. In Washington D.C., participants of this movement have met with representatives from DHS and have been informed that one argument against TPS being granted is a concern that the entire country of the Philippines is not affected.
Priscilla Cacho, a member of Migrante Northern California, whose family is from one of the hardest hit areas said, “It is ridiculous to think the typhoon only affected one area. My family had to move from Dulag, Leyte to Manila.” Cacho’s comment refers to the need of areas such as Manila that were not completely destroyed to absorb the millions who were displaced by the typhoon.
Jun Cruz, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) Public Information Officer commented, “The 4.1 million Filipinos that were displaced sadly doubles the total that were left homeless due to the Haitian earthquake in 2010. Just like Haiti, the Philippines should be granted TPS immediately.”
Alicia Largo, from La Collectiva, an organization of domestic workers said in support, “We as Latinos would like to support the Filipino Community because they are very kind, very accessible, friendly and hardworking people that deserve similar treatment that Latinos have been given in this country like Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras that have been granted TPS also. Yes we can!”
Supervisor Kim who also co-authored the resolution said, “Yes they can. Washington D.C. can definitely designate the Philippines for TPS as they have done for many other countries. The Philippines is absolutely deserving.” Kim continued highlighting her opposition to all deportation in general, “We should not be deporting any of our residents. No more deportations. Stop separating our families.”
Currently in the U.S., there are more than 1 million undocumented Filipinos. A little less than one half or around 400,000 is expected to be eligible for TPS if it is granted. Various qualifications are required to avail of TPS, including paying fees, being free of felony convictions, and registering during a set period of time. TPS is also temporary and is not a path to citizenship.
Organizations that participated in the rally include, the Migrante Northern California, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Filipino Community Center, (FCC), Filipino American Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC), Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ), Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (AAAJ-ALC), La Collectiva, Soma Action Community Network (SOMCAN), Active Leadership to Advance the Youth (ALAY), League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Mckinley Elementary School.
As a part of the national movement, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) recently issued a letter urging DOS to grant TPS for the Philippines. CAPAC is comprised of Members of Congress who are committed to addressing the needs and concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community including forty member of congress. Nineteen senators have also joined the recent effort issuing a similar letter.
For more information on TPS or NAFCON, go to www.nafconusa.org or call Jun Cruz at 415.333.6267. ###