Bay Area Organizations Urge Philippine Government to Strengthen Relief Effort by Acquiring Temporary Protected Status for Filipinos


For Immediate Release

December 9, 2013

 

CONTACT: Jun Cruz, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns

 

Bay Area Organizations Urge Philippine Government to Strengthen Relief Effort by Acquiring Temporary Protected Status for Filipinos

Joining the National Day of Action for TPS, Filipinos and their supporters meet with Philippine Deputy Consulate General pushing for the government to take immediate action.

 San Francisco, CA – On Wednesday, December 4th eleven organizations met with Deputy Consulate General Ascalon to urge the Philippine government to push for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipinos in the U.S. TPS, if granted, would offer protection from deportation, authorization to work, and the possibility of overseas travel.

Migrante Northern California – San Francisco member Harold Butanas explained, “Talagang importante para sa akin ang magkaraoon ng TPS. Kung hindi ito maaprubahan  mawawalan ako ng trabaho. Ang effecto nito, hindi ako makakapagpadala ng pera sa pamilya ko sa Pilipinas at tsaka nahihirapan kami dito sa U.S. na maghanap ng trabaho kung hindi ipagkakaloob ang TPS. (Getting TPS is very important to me. If TPS doesn’t come, I will lose my job. If this happens I won’t be able to send money to the Philippines, I won’t be able to send money to my family, and it will make it harder for me to find work if TPS isn’t granted.)

Butanas’ wife and kids live in northern-Cebu where the typhoon wiped out their home and much of the surrounding area. He currently has a job but his employer will let him go by the end of the month if Butanas does not get work authorization.

“TPS is an important form of relief for the Philippines. It increases the ability of tens of thousands of undocumented Filipinos here in the U.S. to contribute to the rebuilding of the Philippines,” said Terrence Valen, President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON).

Fiona Cruz, a staff of Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ) and a member of Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE), spoke as an undocumented woman who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA offers similar benefits as TPS and is also implemented within the administrative power of President Obama. Both DACA and TPS do not require congressional approval.

Cruz shared, “Since I received DACA I’ve been able to work and help my family support my sister through school. Having this relief has not only allowed me to live without fear of deportation but has enabled me to give back to the people I love. TPS isn’t a permanent fix but it’s an important step for recovery. It’s important to bring undocumented people out of the shadows so that they can support their family withbetter working conditions and with the dignity and respect that they deserve, if President Aquino can ask for TPS that would be great.”

Cruz is referring to the normal procedure for a country to acquire TPS. Traditionally, the Philippine government would make the request upon the U.S. government. Then, the Obama administration would decide on granting it or not through the Department of Homeland Security.

Deputy Consulate General Ascalon affirmed that the Philippine government was considering to request for TPS from the U.S. government, however, had various concerns including a possible effect on tourism. Ascalon posed one challenge – that the granting of TPS would possibly convey the message that the country was not ready to accept tourists.

The organizations at the meeting were shocked at this concern given the extreme need for relief and rehabilitation at this time. Valen contended, “The indisputable priority of the government should be on meeting the needs of its people who are suffering from disaster and acquiring TPS status from the U.S. government would help greatly in that cause.”

However, Valen, who is from New Orleans, also discredited the concern for negative effect on tourism citing his own personal experience, “After Katrina, people were not deterred from coming to New Orleans, it was the exact opposite. Many more came because they wanted to contribute to the rebuilding of the city and its communities.”

Closing the meeting, the Deputy Consulate General ensured the organizations present that he would take up the concern for requesting TPS with both Philippine Ambassor Cuisia and the government in Manila and give an update within a week or so.

All the organization present including Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s office, Migrante-Northern California, Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants, NAFCON, FAJ, ASPIRE, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, National Domestic Worker Coaltion, Mujeras Unidas, La Collectiva, and the Filipino Community Center support the effort to gain TPS for Filipinos and encourage the wholecommunity to urge the Philippine government to make the request upon the U.S. to grant it.

For those who wanting to join the effort, you can call the Philippine Embassy in the U.S. demanding President Aquino and Ambassador Cuisia to make the request at 202-467-9300, then immediately dial 3, and then 0 to leave a message. You can also email the embassy by clicking here. ###

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