On November 7, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the Philippines causing widespread loss of life and property. It was the latest of three major environmental disasters in thirteen months in the Philippines. Previous disasters were a 7.2 earthquake on October 15, 2013, and Typhoon Bopha in December 3, 2012. More than 6,000 people have been confirmed dead and nearly 2,000 are still missing: the country is devastated and needs our help.
On December 13, the Philippine ambassador to the United States, Jose L. Cuisia, made a formal request to the US Department of State to designate the Philippines a country under “temporary protected status (TPS).” The designation of Temporary Protective Status would ensure that nationals of the Philippines who are currently residing in the United States are able to work and to send money and aid back to their families, thus helping aid the recovery. It also would protect them from deportation to a nation that, for the time being, is unable to assist them in their reintegration.
Additionally, TPS would allow Filipinos who normally cannot leave the United States to apply for travel authorization and fly to the Philippines to be with family, help locate missing kin and help rebuild livelihood and communities. I recently met a Filipino man who had just gotten word that a few of his relatives had drowned during the typhoon while a few more were missing. He didn’t know what to do because he couldn’t leave the country because of his immigration status. He had not seen his family in over ten years.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos residing in the US could benefit from the protection that will be provided by TPS, allowing them to help their families. More than 28,000 people were injured in the typhoon.
The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan more than justifies the designation of TPS for the Philippines. The Secretary of Homeland Security has the authority to designate TPS and have done so for other countries experiencing natural disasters, such as Haiti in 2010 following a 7.0 earthquake.
In light of the devastation and substantial disruption of living conditions caused by this natural disaster, We respectfully request that you designate the Philippines for TPS as soon as possible.