The devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines on Nov. 8 caused unprecedented damage. The toll in human life alone was astronomical, with over 5,000 people dead, many more injured and billions of dollars in property damage. At such time, many Filipino immigrants here in South Carolina and throughout the U.S. are surely quite anxious about relatives and other loved ones, but may feel it would be risky to travel to offer aid because of their immigration status. But if one member of Congress has his way, one's legal status need not be a bar to travel.
Senator Charles Schumer is asking that Temporary Protected Status be granted by the Department of Homeland Security to Filipino nationals who currently reside in the United States. "Obviously, it makes no sense to return these people to a devastated country and we should extend the TPS status until the Philippines is back on its feet," he said.
By adjusting status for Filipinos to TPS, non-permanent residents who are here legally cannot be deported if they go back to the Philippines, even if their visas expire. Under TPS, authorization to many also be given for work and travel. Those protected are also not subject to detention by the DHS merely on the basis of their immigrant status.
The senator pointed out that TPS would only apply to Filipino immigrants already in the U.S. Since Typhoon Haiyan is making it difficult for Filipino nationals to leave the Philippines, granting TPS would not lead to an influx of illegal immigration.
Temporary Protected Status has been granted in the past to Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras, also in response to natural disasters. Since the Philippines is a close ally and friend to the United States, it seems reasonable to expect that TPS will be granted to Filipino immigrants residing here.
If you are a Filipino immigrant wanted to return to the Philippines, an immigration attorney may be provide advice and options you of which you were not previously aware.
Source: brooklyneagle.com, "Will Filipinos be granted Temporary Protected Status in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan?" Paula Katinas, Nov. 25, 2013