WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the decision by the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status to Nepalese currently residing in the United States.
“I commend the President and Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson for responding positively to my request and extending Temporary Protected Status to Nepalese currently residing in the United States,” Senator Cardin said. “The people and Government of Nepal are showing great courage as they begin to rebuild their country following the devastating earthquakes earlier this year. This is small but significant act of support will allow Nepalese in the U.S. to remain here until the situation in Nepal becomes more stable.”
“Nepal is working to recover with assistance from the U.S., but ongoing humanitarian support is required. With more than 770,000 homes, 47,000 classrooms and 1,000 health facilities damaged or destroyed, millions of Nepalese continue to be affected including families without permanent shelter, children out of school, and the sick without health care. The U.S. should continue to support our friends in their time of need to rebuild,” Senator Cardin added.
Temporary Protected Status allows eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) to apply and remain in the United States and potentially receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The decision to designate Nepal for Temporary Protected Status was made today by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson and will last for 18 months. Eligible nationals of Nepal residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The eligibility requirements are fully described on the TPS Web page at www.uscis.gov/tps.
A copy of Senator Cardin’s original letter to the President from May 1, 2015 appears below.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
In light of the devastating earthquake in Nepal and resulting humanitarian crisis, I respectfully request that your Administration promptly take all necessary steps to ensure that Nepalese nationals present in the United States are not forced to return to Nepal, including the designation of Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
As you know, TPS can be granted to nationals of another country “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely.” In particular, a country may be designated for TPS due to “an environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane).”
Nepal clearly meets the standard for TPS. The United States Ambassador to Nepal issued a disaster declaration and the U.S. Government has launched a large-scale humanitarian response effort to help meet basic human needs including water, food, shelter, and medical assistance. The Embassy advises travelers to “defer all non-essential travel,” and for those currently in Nepal to, “shelter in place,” due to the risk of continuing aftershocks and the fragile infrastructure. Forcing Nepalese back at this time places them at great risk and may subject them to a situation where they would require international humanitarian assistance.
It is important to note that granting TPS to Nepal will not endanger our security. An alien is ineligible for TPS if he has a criminal background or poses a threat to national security. The decision to deny, withdraw or terminate TPS is in the sole discretion of the government; there is no judicial review of such a determination. Moreover, TPS is not a backdoor to U.S. citizenship. TPS does not make a beneficiary eligible for legal permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship. When the TPS designation of a country is terminated, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before the designation.
I commend you for your rapid deployment of humanitarian responders and for the US contributions to the relief effort. The scale of the crisis continues to grow as more information becomes available and U.S. leadership will continue to be needed for some time to come. With the scale of the devastation, the U.S. will need to play a significant role in helping Nepal recover as the immediate crisis recedes. Granting TPS to Nepal will be a small but very important gesture of compassion and concern for the suffering of Nepal in its time of greatest need.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your prompt reply.