MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in Monday that about 200,000 undocumented Filipinos are expected to apply for temporary protected status (TPS) and work in the US for the next 18 months to raise money and be able to help victims of Super typhoon Yolanda.

According to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, placing the Philippines under TPS will allow eligible Filipinos to stay and work in the US in order for them to assist in the county’s continuing recovery efforts for victims of super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas.

Del Rosario said that the request to be placed under TPS would be evaluated first by US authorities and may take some time if approved and the applications would be reviewed on a case-to-case basis.

“If the request were granted, the Philippines will join four other countries that are under TPS going through similar natural disaster, which includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti  and Honduras,” he said.

He further said that the request was officially conveyed by Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States H.E Jose L. Cuisia Jr. to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a note verbale sent to the US Department of State.

Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States H.E. Jose L. Cuisia Jr.
Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States H.E. Jose L. Cuisia Jr.

More than 200 Filipino-American organizations across the US backed by members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, the Roman Catholic Church and other nongovernment organizations have requested for the additional immigration relief measures that a TPS designation would be able to provide to Filipinos.

Cuisia said that the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Consulates General in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Honolulu and Agana made the recommendation to del Rosario during their annual conference in Washington, D.C. last week and after extensive consultations with leaders of the Filipino community in their respective jurisdictions.

However, Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez said that after the terms of the TPS have expired, those who volunteered will return to their former status as undocumented workers or in some cases, as students who are enrolled in the US.

No deportations, No Permanent Residency

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in November, Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Ed Navarra wrote that the benefit of TPS will alleviate their fears of deportation to a devastated country and allow them to work and stay in the US temporarily.

Meanwhile, President of the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (Faldef) JT Mallonga stated that while TPS provides temporary legal status for Filipinos already in the US, it will not necessarily lead to permanent residency and this does not provide humanitarian aid or legal status for people not already here.

He also said that there are precedents where the US administration acted on similar requests.

“Following the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti two years ago, the US designated TPS to Haitian nationals, allowing them to continue living and working in the country for 18 months. The same should be done to Filipinos, and it must be done soon,” Mallonga explained.

“TPS may only be granted for 18 months. Beneficiaries will be granted a temporary employment authorization document as proof of authorized stay in the US for that period. Qualified TPS applicants will then be allowed to remain in the US with a work permit. This is only meant to be a temporary immigration benefit,” Mallonga further explained.