By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – With an online petition to designate the Philippines with a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in danger of not gaining enough signatures, Filipino-American leaders are turning to other means to pursue the proposal.
Just 13 days are left before the Feb. 1 deadline to gather 100,000 signatures on the We the People petition to the While House and a measly 22 signatures have been posted.
But San Francisco lawyer Rodel Rodis and other leaders of the petition are not worried – they are using other means to pursue the TPS proposal that is vital to helping Filipino victims of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
” Mine is not the only White House petition for TPS I learned, ” Rodis said in a statement. ” The other one, by Z National Association of Domestic Workers, is also gathering signatures.”
Rodis said the White House petition is not the only avenue. State legislatures and city councils throughout the US have endorsed the TPS proposal.
” We’re dealing with it on multiple fronts, the WH petition is only one of them,” he said.
With the Feb.1, 2014 deadline looming, the We the People petition on the White House website has generated too few signatures that it is not even publicly searchable.
A notice on the website says:
“It’s up to you to build support for petitions you care about and gather more signatures. A petition must get 150 signatures in order to be publicly searchable on WhiteHouse.gov.”
A number of Filipino-Americans have complained that they have not seen the petition posted on the website.
Another Filipino-American leader behind the TPS proposal, Arnedo Valera, said a more effective way to gain TPS is direct pressure on the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
“Raise our demand to a high level,” said Valera, co-commissioner of the Washington, D.C.-based Migrant Heritage Commission. “Keep sending your letters.”
Valera said that with political pressure and the support of some members of the U.S. Congress, the Obama Administration will relent.
A bi-partisan group of Senators, including New York’s Chuck Schumer, and Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III have endorsed the proposal.
A TPS designation provides a variety of benefits to Filipinos living in the United States, including a hold on deportation and faster adjustments of immigration status.
A country may be designated for TPS if it has been impacted by a natural disaster that has “result[ed] in a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions” such that the country is “unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return” of its nationals currently in the United States.
The U.S. has provided the TPS designation to countries hit by disasters in the past, including Haiti, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Another online petition, initiated by Rodis, is posted on the change.org website, with basically the demand as the White House petition.
It is asking President Obama to extend TPS to the Philippines for “Filipinos in the United States who are out of status and who lost their homes, offices, jobs, businesses, friends, families, and communities when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck their neighborhoods, their towns, their islands.”
” (This) will provide temporary relief that will allow them to remain in the United States where they can work to earn income to remit to their families in the Philippines.”