Philippine government heeds the people’s call for Temporary Protected Status (TPS

For immediate release

Monday, December 16, 2013


Leah Obias, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, New York City,, 212-564-6057

New York – This morning, the Philippine Government announced that it has formally requested Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipinos in the U.S. The request comes after weeks of organizing and nationally-coordinated actions calling for TPS by Filipino, immigrant rights, interfaith, community and legal and advocacy groups across the country through the Relief 2 Recovery campaign led by the Pilipino Workers Center in LA.

Josie Gutierrez, Chair of Damayan Migrant Workers Association, says: “We are thrilled that the Philippine Government has heard the call of the people to request TPS. It is an important step forward and the result of grassroots organizing to make our voices heard, educate officials, and gather support. We call upon the Department of Homeland Security to grant TPS immediately.”

Grant TPS Now

The unprecedented devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda qualifies the Philippines for TPS according to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 244. TPS is available to a country when certain conditions exist, such as a natural disaster, within that country that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals from safely returning home. Certainly, for the Philippines to reabsorb thousands of its nationals currently abroad during this national emergency would only burden an already strained infrastructure.

Mass organizing for TPS follows weeks of Damayan’s fundraising and relief efforts, through the Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas (STP) Relief Campaign, which has worked with several separate grassroots fundraising events in New York, Boston, and San Diego, California. These events, in combination with online fundraising, have successfully raised over $43,000 for on-the-ground operations serving survivors in directly affected areas.

Typhoon Yolanda has had devastating effects on the Philippines and upon relatives and friends of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the U.S. While certain regions of the Visayas are most severely affected, the repercussions are felt throughout the entire country – and among overseas Filipino workers who support their families back home.

Overseas workers, especially women migrant workers, are the lifeblood of the Philippine economy and its first line of aid in times of crisis. According to Damayan research, Filipino domestic workers in the New York City area regularly send up to 75 percent of their incomes back home to the Philippines; according to World Bank estimates, remittances from overseas Filipino workers now amount to $26 billion. These numbers have risen because of the calamity, though working conditions remain substandard, and comprehensive immigration reform now unlikely at this time.

“TPS is only a temporary measure. We need to continue to fight for just immigration reform for all,” says Gutierrez. “Despite the election cycles and whether or not it is a convenient political issue, we should continue to call for full rights for all immigrants. DHS – grant TPS now! Congress – full legalization for all immigrants!”

“As we continue relief efforts and our campaign for TPS,” says Leah Obias, Campaigns Coordinator for Damayan, “we cannot forget that Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan was unquestionably related to human-caused climate change. The Philippines has contributed little to nothing of the greenhouse gases that have caused climate change, but is now forced to bear the brunt of the catastrophe. Climate justice calls for nations who have contributed the majority of the greenhouse gases, like the U.S., to assist the Philippines in its recovery. The call for climate justice must continue to be at the forefront of all relief efforts, including the current call for TPS.”

To participate or get involved in the Relief 2 Recovery Campaign, please contact Leah Obias at