At least 300,000 undocumented Filipinos in the United States (US) are facing deportation, prompting the Philippine government to seek temporary extension of their stay in the US, citing humanitarian reasons.
Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, made the disclosure in his call to US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg to support Manila’s request for a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the undocumented workers.
Evardone mentioned their much-needed remittances, sent to their families back in a country still recovering from last year’s killer typhoon Yolanda.
“For humanitarian reasons, may I ask His Excellency to support and recommend to President [Barack] Obama the immediate approval of the Philippine government’s pending request for a Temporary Protected Status for undocumented Filipinos in the United States. Once the TPS designation is made, out-of-status Filipinos in the US could help fast-track our rebuilding efforts and economic recovery from the devastation of typhoon Yolanda through their monthly remittances to their respective families,” Evardone said in his letter.
A TPS would defer the deportation of these Filipinos, thus enabling them to continue working in the US. But it does not grant permanent resident status to aliens.
The Philippines’ request for TPS is pending before the Office of Secretary of State John Kerry. Should Kerry approve it, the request would also have to go through the Department of Homeland Security for the TPS to take effect.
At least 20 American senators have already expressed support for the TPS request.
“Families in the Philippines, especially those left homeless by Typhoon Yolanda depend much on the remittances of these OFWs [overseas Filipino workers]. With an 18-month TPS, these undocumented Filipinos could infuse into our economy at least P2.64 billion per month should each of them send $200 monthly to their respective families, at an exchange rate of P44 to $1,” Evardone said.
Based on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas records, the OFWs’ personal remittances reached $2.4 billion in December 2013, 12.5 percent higher than the amount remitted in the same period in 2012. The US was one of the major sources of the remittances.
The US had issued TPS designation on undocumented individuals from Syria, Somalia, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Philippines will probably have its best chance to secure the TPS when Obama visits the Philippines later this month.