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Congresswoman Grace Meng

Representing the 6th District of New York

Meng, Crowley Call on Federal Government to Grant Temporary Protected Status to Nepali Nationals in Wake of Devastating Earthquake

May 6, 2015
Press Release

Today, Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Grace Meng (D-Queens), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, announced that in the wake of Nepal’s devastating earthquake, they are leading dozens of House members in a letter urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Nepali nationals currently residing in the United States, so that they are not forced to return home to harmful and unsafe conditions. Crowley and Meng are cosponsors of legislation to grant TPS to Nepali nationals.

“As the people of Nepal continue to mourn the lives lost and struggle to recover from this terrible tragedy, our nation must continue its tradition of humanitarian support by granting TPS to Nepalis currently in our country,” said Rep. Crowley, whose district includes a growing Nepali population. “This will allow those residing in Queens and in communities across the country to remain here until the Nepali government is better suited to handle their return. This will allow the government, public safety officials, and rescue forces to focus on their critical work. In the aftermath of a catastrophe of this magnitude, we need to step forward and do all we can to help Nepal and its people get back on their feet.”

“The tragedy in Nepal is heartbreaking and everybody impacted by this terrible disaster remains in our thoughts and prayers,” said Rep. Meng. “Although the country is working to recover, it is obviously not safe for Nepalese citizens in the U.S. to return home. That’s why we must not force them to go back to the dangerous and disastrous conditions in their country until it is safe to do so. I urge Secretary Johnson and Secretary Kerry to grant Temporary Protected Status as quickly possible”

“Due to the continuing aftershocks, many remaining buildings have collapsed or become uninhabitable,” said Luna Ranjit, executive director of Adhikaar, a local non-profit organization that works with New York’s Nepali community. “Many, many families, including my own, are unable to go back to their homes and are living in tents and cars in spite of the heavy rains. The Nepali community in the US has come together to help our country to the best of our ability. TPS would allow us to focus our energy on the much-needed relief and recovery efforts.”

Under The Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to designate a foreign country for TPS, which allows those temporarily in the U.S. to stay for a longer period of time if they are unable to safely return to their home country due to an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Secretaries Johnson and Kerry,
We are all horrified by the massive earthquake that has left thousands dead and many more injured in Nepal and throughout the region. Nepali people living in the United States should not be forced to return in the midst of devastation, and we urge you to extend Temporary Protected Status to this community.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is designed to grant protection to foreign nationals living in the U.S. when extraordinary circumstances make it difficult for them to return to their homeland. Specifically, the statute says that TPS may be granted when there are “extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent…nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety.” We believe the widespread damage, uncertainty, and turmoil in the area meet these criteria, and that TPS would be of tremendous help in this situation to allow the Nepali government to focus its efforts on safety, recovery, and rebuilding. 
According to media reports, almost the entire army and police has joined the rescue and recovery effort, highlighting that the country’s focus is – rightfully – on protecting and securing those in the area at the time. In addition to the extensive damage and loss of life, there is a continuing danger to the area with aftershocks and shortages of water, food and electricity, as well as the danger of diseases beginning to spread. It clearly would not be safe or humane to expect Nepali nationals currently in the U.S. to return to their homeland at this time.
TPS has often been granted in similar circumstances after severe natural disasters abroad. Allowing Nepali nationals that are here in the U.S. to remain here temporarily is the safe, reasonable, and compassionate thing to do, and we hope you will act swiftly to provide this reassurance to the Nepali people in a time of great distress.
We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and appreciate your prompt consideration of this request.
Joseph Crowley
Grace Meng
Xavier Becerra
Earl Blumenauer
Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Matt Cartwright
Judy Chu
David N. Cicilline
Yvette D. Clarke
Danny K. Davis
Suzan K. DelBene
Mark DeSaulnier
Lloyd Doggett
Tulsi Gabbard
Al Green
Raúl M. Grijalva
Luis V. Gutiérrez
Michael M. Honda
Steve Israel
Sheila Jackson Lee
Daniel T. Kildee
Rick Larsen
Barbara Lee
Ted Lieu
Zoe Lofgren
Carolyn B. Maloney
Doris O. Matsui
Jim McDermott
James P. McGovern
Jerrold Nadler
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Jared Polis
Charles B. Rangel
Bobby L. Rush
Janice D. Schakowsky
Adam B. Schiff
Brad Sherman
Albio Sires
Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Adam Smith
Mark Takai
Paul Tonko
Maxine Waters
Bonnie Watson Coleman