Undocumented Pinoys call on Obama to pass temp protected status for Filipinos in America

By Steve Angeles, Henni Espinosa & Monette Rivera, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Dec. 5, 2013

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – More than a month after Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, undocumented Filipinos joined other immigrants and their advocates in urging the Department of Homeland Security to authorize temporary protected status (TPS) for at least a million Filipinos in the U.S., with expiring or expiring visas.

TPS would allow kababayans to temporarily stay and work in America, while the Philippines recovers from the world’s strongest storm.
A formal request from the Aquino administration to the Obama government is not necessary, but recommended for the DHS to authorize this immigration relief.

Joining a nationwide call to action yesterday, undocumented Filipinos from Los Angeles and San Francisco, called on President Barack Obama to help them.

This undocumented caregiver who goes by “Joyce” has lived in the U.S. for nine years now. She said she’s been feeling helpless, knowing that her brother’s home and piggery in Ormoc in Leyte were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda.

“You’re helpless because you cannot do anything. You want to hug them and comfort them because of what happened to them. What I could do is just send them money,” she said.

As many as twenty U.S. lawmakers have shown support for TPS. In the past 14 years, this renewable humanitarian measure had been granted to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Somalia.

“In this political environment, in all likelihood, the only way TPS could actually be provided is through a formal request by the Philippine government through the diplomatic measures of the Obama administration,” Alison Aquino, immigration attorney of the Filipino American Bar Association.

Meantime, in San Francisco, undocumented immigrants also joined the nationwide call to action for TPS, led by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.

Harold Butanes, who was among the speakers, alleges that he was a victim of human trafficking.

His wife and children are in Northern Cebu, an area severely impacted by the super storm.

He said if he is granted TPS, he will be able to come to their aid, despite his undocumented status. “I can get a decent job and send them financial support,” he pointed out.

Fiona Cruz, who used to be undocumented, has been granted immigration reprieve through the immigration reprieve through the deferred action program, passed through an executive order by President Obama.

She said he should extend the same courtesy and pass TPS for Filipinos in the U.S. “This would allow Filipinos to help, not just with relief efforts, but more on the recovery and rebuilding that’s really needed after the typhoon,” she pointed out.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington DC has recently met DHS officials to figure out the requirements of TPS, as the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs continues to study the measure.

In New York, immigrant rights advocates and community leaders said they sent a letter to President Benigno Aquino III, to urge him to request for TPS immediately.

“With the current political climate and for lack of immigration reform, we think that this is an important form of relief for overseas Filipino workers, who very much support the economy back home in the Philippines,” Lea Obias of Damayan said.

“Today, united with hundreds of organizations throughout the United States, millions of Filipinos here in the United States and all over the world, as well as scores of U.S. Senators and Representatives from all political parties, we respectfully request that President Aquino issue immediately to the U.S government, a written request seeking Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines,” Atty. Rio Guerrero of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association expressed.

Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. said, “We view TPS as part of the overall relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts that the Philippine government is working on right now. I know for a fact that the government wants to get the support of the U.S. as far as rehabilitation is concerned.”

“These matters have reached the ears of our President (Aquino),” Consul Felipe Carino concluded.

8 Comments on this post.

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  • Kikay Pang0
    5 December 2013 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Go back in the Phil. and enter the US legally. Follow the law and go through the immigration process. That’s the pathway to citizenship i support and i oppose amnesty.

  • JD
    5 December 2013 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Do all of you know what the word “Undocumented” means you don’t belong in America do you all understand ? So please stop it, and go home where you belong ! Obama said he can’t do anything for the undocumented immigration people in America. So go home and come back the right way.

  • amfil
    6 December 2013 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Migrating to America legally is, and should be, a thorough procedure meant to protect the interests of American citizens. It involves more than simply jumping a fence and heading north in pursuit of free health care, education, food stamps, and other handouts paid for by broke U.S. citizens and a Bankrupt nation!

    Legal immigration means enduring rigorous hurdles like background checks to detect a criminal background or possible ties to terrorists; medical examinations to detect diseases still prevalent in third-world nations, but long since eradicated here; proof of financial solvency so as to prevent newcomers from becoming a burden on U.S. taxpayers, and testing for knowledge of American history and English skills.

    Those who have jumped a fence into America in order to avoid our immigration checks are not immigrants. Rather, they are invading criminals, with no claim whatsoever to the welcome mat extended to legal immigrants.

    Such people do not deserve recognition, sanction or amnesty by the United States, and should be rounded up and deported as soon as possible, alone with the corrupt politicians that support this invasion.

    In truth, illegal aliens have invaded our nation, leaving America vulnerable to undetected crime, terrorism, disease, and financial devastation at the hands of people with no legal or moral justification for being here.

    • Delia
      6 December 2013 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      Amfil , I agree wholeheratedly . Thats what i have been saying for years . I am happy someone else felt the same way i do .

  • Noel Garcia
    6 December 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Those who commented below the belt are greedy Pinoys who came here as Caregivers and marry and old man to become a US citizen. Shame on you guys! You have no heart in saying that to our kababayans. Shame on you. Hope you won’t visit your country of origin and it can’t stomach your attitude.

  • amfil
    6 December 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    We should just ask them –

    Is it fair to those that waited years to come here legally?

  • Asl
    6 December 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Most of these Filipino citizens in the US are documented unless you are a victim of human trafficking. Remember, these people didn’t climb any fence or crossed a river. Most of them have visas that either expired or they overstayed their legal allowable time in the US. This is not about immigration. This is about moral responsibility as a country and as a human being. Going home to a country that was devastated by a horrific storm could bring temporary relief to immediate relatives who may have lost family members but rehabilitation will take quite a long time. Financially, it is impossible for the Philippine government to help all these people. These relatives in the US can help in easing the burden away from the Philippine government and the affected ones as well. So to wrap it up. It is morally correct to grant TPS to any country who needs it. We, as a country are so lucky that we are helping instead of asking for help..God bless America.

    6 December 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I don’t care how you feel for the undocumented people in America ! In America you just don’t go in to someone house without asking if you can go in to the house… Like when you come to America, you have to have your document to enter America, no documents you can’t enter in to America !