(TRENTON) – The General Assembly advanced on Monday a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon M. Johnson, Timothy Eustace and Upendra J. Chivukula to urge the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to grant temporary protected status to visitors from the Philippines following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
On Friday, November 8th, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land, hit the Philippines, bringing sustained winds of 147 mph and waves as high as 45 ft. An estimated 6.9 million people have been affected by the storm, and the death toll is estimated to be in the thousands while the number of people displaced by the massive storm rises into the hundreds of thousands.
“Typhoon Haiyan has left most of the Philippines ravaged,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “This indeed is a situation that would warrant a suspension of deportation for Philippine nationals.”
“Many residents in Bergen have been directly affected by what has happened in the Philippines,” said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). “With family and friends still there, many Filipinos desire to help their country by remaining here to work. Temporary protected status for Philippine nationals is an important humanitarian gesture that should be granted by the U.S.”
“Many Filipinos have lost everything,” said Chivukula (Middlesex, Somerset). “Deportation possibly puts more lives at risk. The United States prides itself through its humanitarian work all over the world and temporarily ceasing the process would be of great help to some citizens of the Philippines.”
The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country, or portions of a country, for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when conditions exist such as an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster in the country that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals from returning safely.
The measure (AR-207) respectfully urges the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to grant TPS to the Philippines in order to allow nationals residing in the United States temporary relief from possible deportation or removal proceedings. If the United States grants the request, the Philippines will join El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras that were placed under TPS after experiencing similar natural disasters.
The Assembly resolution was approved 73-3-1. It was released by the Assembly State Government Committee on December 16.