Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has formally requested that the U.S. government designate his country as eligible for "temporary protected status" (TPS). If granted, the most likely outcome, Filipinos would be allowed to stay and work in the United States even if they are currently illegal residents.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario added to Aquino’s statement that TPS would help Filipinos support their families back home by sending remittances and thus assist in the country’s post-Typhoon Haiyan recovery.
Under federal immigration laws, the Homeland Security secretary may designate a country for TPS due to certain conditions in the country that prevent its nationals from returning safely or in certain circumstances in which the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. The circumstances can include civil war or, as in the Philippines' case, a natural disaster like a typhoon. TPS changes aliens’ immigration status and makes them not subject to removal, work authorized, and able to secure travel documents as well as driver’s licenses.
Many Filipinos would benefit. According to Census Bureau data, more than 3.4 million Filipinos live in the United States, with 1.4 million in California. Filipinos are the largest Asian group in 10 of 13 Western states, including California. In 2010, the Philippines were the fourth largest immigrant-sending country behind Mexico, China and India.
Among the Filipino population, those who came on various visas and went out of status like tourists, students, IT workers, business, investor, entertainer and religious visas are likely to qualify. Even those who entered illegally by crossing the Canadian or Mexican border could be given TPS.
One of the things past TPS programs have in common is that they ended up becoming permanent. With Hondurans and Nicaraguans in 1998 and Salvadorans in 2001, no one has gone home. Liberian illegal aliens were granted TPS in 1991 because of its civil war, and it’s been renewed ever since. Ditto for Hondurans and Nicaraguans (1998) and Salvadorans (2001).
During the last 12 months, the Justice Department extended TPS status to seven nations: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.
While the United States takes pride in its compassion for global suffers, its TPS policy is not temporary but instead a program that rolls over indefinitely and adds permanent residents to an already overpopulated nation and a tight labor market that includes 20 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job. Once TPS is universally acknowledged as a farce — the only word that applies to a program officially called “temporary” but that lasts 15 years — it becomes another magnet for more illegal immigration.
Prospective aliens from Mexico, China and India could be emboldened by the probability that their well-funded lobbyists could claim TPS for them: Mexicans, for example, could profess fear of drug cartel violence directed against them; Chinese, human rights violations; and Indians, gender discrimination, poverty, illiteracy, lack of sanitation and poor health services.
In 2013, Congress made a full-bore effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that it will resume in 2014. If it eventually passes, between 12 million and 20 million illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty, and legal immigration would more than double in the next two decades. This year the White House also granted without congressional approval deferred action to some alien parents with minor children, removed illegal immigrant military families from deportation, and extended deferred action for childhood arrivals as well as for those under TPS.
Individually and collectively, these unilateral actions aren’t in Americans' best interests. They don’t represent thoughtful immigration policy. Temporary means temporary. Visa expiration dates must be honored. Illegal immigrants must be deported. Yet these sane immigration cornerstones are considered too radical to implement.
— Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns — mostly about immigration and related social issues — since 1990 and is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). He can be reached at [email protected].