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Lawmakers: Let Filipinos stay in U.S. beyond visas

Filipinos currently in the United States should be allowed to remain temporarily after their visas expire due to Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation of the Philippines, say members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, led 28 other members in calling upon the Obama Administration to grant visiting Filipinos “temporary protected status” given the extraordinary circumstances.

Their letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers cites a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the administration “to designate a foreign state for special protection if a natural disaster prevents the state from being able to adequately handle the return of its nationals.”

“Considering the daunting rescue and restoration efforts before it, the country is not in a position to adequately handle returning nationals, many of whom will be unable to return to their homes,” they wrote. “Additionally, given the extraordinary and life-threatening conditions currently present in the Philippines, it cannot be said that Filipinos are able to return to the state in anything approaching safe conditions.”

The United States has granted TPS status during other major humanitarian disasters, most recently including those in Syria, Haiti and Sudan.

Besides Lofgren, D-San Jose, other Bay Area House members signing the letter included Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton; and Mike Honda, D-San Jose. In all, 21 Democrats and eight Republicans signed the letter.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.