Letter to DHS for Temporary Protected Status for Nepal

May 5, 2015 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC 20528

May 5, 2015
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Johnson:
In coalition with Nepali organizations based in the United States, including Adhikaar in New York, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) are a part of a nation-wide movement to support humanitarian efforts for Nepal. The massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook Nepal has resulted in mass death and destruction. This devastation and tragedy has touched all of our hearts as the difficult relief efforts have begun. 
NCAPA commends the Obama Administration for contributing to urgent relief efforts in Nepal. While the U.S. is directing much-needed relief aid to Nepal, another significant way we can help limit the strain on that country's resources is by designating Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under § 244(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  In a very similar circumstance, after a massive earthquake in Haiti, the Secretary of Homeland Security acted quickly to designate Haiti for TPS. That response can and should be repeated for Nepal as soon as possible. 
Section 244(b)(1)(B) allows for a TPS designation if an environmental disaster, including specifically an earthquake, has caused a substantial temporary disruption of living conditions in the area affected such that the country cannot adequately handle the return of its nationals; and the country has officially requested a TPS designation. 
Nepal experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake followed by numerous strong aftershocks, some even measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale. Thirty-nine of Nepal’s seventy-five districts were affected by the quake – 11 of them severely. The death toll in Nepal has exceeded 5,000 and the expected numbers could be as high as 10,000. Eight million people have already been affected, and the number is expected to grow as aftershocks, avalanches, mudslides and bad weather continue to damage homes, businesses and
other vital infrastructure. The government estimates that over 70,000 houses have been destroyed. Over 3,000 schools are located in the 11 most severely affected districts. Up to 90 percent of health facilities in rural areas have been damaged. Hospitals in district capitals, including Kathmandu, are overcrowded and lack medical supplies and capacity. Many temples and heritage sites have collapsed.
The aftermath of the earthquake has left the people of Nepal displaced, homeless, and at risk for disease. The United Nations reported that an estimated 2.8 million people are displaced. Survivors are reported to be living in tents or sleeping in open fields, despite the heavy rains. The need for food, clean water, shelter and fuel is dire. Nepal’s famous mountainous structure has made it difficult to provide relief to villages farther away from the capital of Kathmandu. Relief efforts have also been complicated because
Kathmandu’s airport has only one runway, which suffered damage during the earthquake, and cannot easily accommodate the planes arriving with supplies. The conditions on the ground mean that Nepal is  unable to handle the return of nationals at this time. All the energy is on keeping people in Nepal safe and cared for. Given the extensive damage and loss that is already known, and the certainty that those numbers will increase significantly, Nepal clearly meets the necessary requirements for a TPS designation.  
TPS is a temporary form of humanitarian aid that will empower Nepalese here in the United States to more effectively aid their own home country during the rebuilding. TPS would ensure that Nepalese in the U.S. would be protected from deportation and granted work authorization to enable them to continue working and send remittances to Nepal. Moreover, the devastation in Nepal and hazardous conditions make it unsafe for any Nepalese nationals to be forced to return to the country at this time. Nepal ranks among the world’s poorest countries. The United States has provided aid and support since January 1951, contributing more than $1.4 billion bilaterally and multilaterally. Up to 90 percent of the country’s inhabitants earn a living through agriculture, which serves as a significant percentage of the country’s gross domestic product. Tourism also serves as a major source of revenue, which will be greatly impacted by the earthquake’s devastation as many historical sites have been destroyed. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that reconstruction costs could exceed $10 billion, or half of national GDP.
Further, in 2006 Nepal ended an armed conflict that plagued the country for over ten years. Over 15,000 people were killed in this conflict, between 100,000 to 150,000 thousand people were internally displaced and thousands of others were disappeared. Since 2006 Nepal has faced a crisis of governance with different political parties leading the government at different times. Nepal currently runs under an Interim Constitution which was written in 2007 and political parties have not yet agreed on a formal constitution. This instability leaves Nepal with limited infrastructure to deal with the crisis created by the earthquake. 
In addition to requesting a designation of TPS, we respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extend other immigration-related relief for Nepalese in the U.S. and abroad. Specifically, we urge DHS to grant humanitarian parole to Nepalese nationals currently in Nepal who have approved I130 or I-140 petitions but for whom visas are not yet available, and to extend any existing grants of parole to Nepalese nationals already in the U.S. 
We also ask DHS to expedite processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. relatives and to expedite adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate. Similarly, DHS should expedite adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for Nepalese students with F-1 visas experiencing severe economic hardship. 
Therefore, along with the coalition of Nepali organizations, Adhikaar, NCAPA and the 127 undersigned organizations strongly urge you to designate Nepal for Temporary Protected Status and to provide additional immigration-related relief as soon as possible. 
Mini Timmaraju
Executive Director
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans 
Luna Ranjit
Executive Director
21 Progress
African Immigrant Services 
Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justices 
Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment
Alliance San Diego
America's Voice Education Fund
American Immigration Council
American Immigration Lawyers Association 
American Immigration Lawyers Association, Chicago Chapter
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home) 
Alliance South Asian American Labor (ASAAL)
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian American Cultural Association of Cincinnati (AACAC)
Asian American Health Coalition DBA HOPE Clinic
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian American Organizing Project
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA
Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona
Asian Community Alliance
Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)
Asian Health Coalition
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific Development Center
Asian Services In Action
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations 
Aurora Mental health Center 
AZAPIAVote Table
Border Action Network 
California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC)
Center for Asian American Media
Center for Employment Training Immigration and Citizenship Program
Center for Southeast Asians
Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.
Centro Laboral de Graton
Chhaya Community Development Corporation
Chinese Community Center
Chinese for Affirmative Action 
Church World Service
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Conversations With Friends (Minnesota)
DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving
El Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores
Empire Justice Center
Fearless Asians for Immigration Reform (FAIR!)
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc. (FLIC)
Her Justice
Highline College
Holistic Psychiatry, P.C.
Immigrant Justice Corps
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Indian Horizon of Florida 
Indian-American Bar Association of Chicago (IABA Chicago)
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Janelle Wong, Director, Asian American Studies, University of Maryland
Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA) 
Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Laotian American National Alliance (LANA)
Law Office of Mark Shmueli
LSSA 2320  
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Lutheran Social Services of New York - Immigration Legal Program
Mai Family Services
Mayflower Immigration Team
MinKwon Center for Community Action
Mountain View Dreamers
NAAAP Cincinnati
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
National Asian American PAC FL
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association 
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum Seattle Chapter 
National Association of Asian American Professionals
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians 
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Domestic Workers Alliance-Atlanta Chapter
National Employment Law Project
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Immigration Forum 
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Project of the NLG
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National LGBTQ Task Force
New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)
New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Asian Women’s Center
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Raksha, Inc 
Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest
South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST)
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
Somos Mayfair
South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA)
South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY) 
South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST)
South Asian Network
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
Terry Schaunaman
The Advocates for Human Rights
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants 
United We Dream
Voices For Freedom
Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
Wisconsin United Coalition of Mutual Assistance Association, Inc. 
cc: The Honorable John Kerry, Secretary of State
The Honorable Leon Rodriguez, Director, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
Cecilia Muñoz, White House Domestic Policy Council