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Schumer Introduces Bill To Provide Adjustment Of Immigration Status For Nationals Of Montserrat

292 individuals from the island of Montserrat were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in August 1997, due to volcanic activity beginning on the island in July 1995On July 7, 2004, Department of Homeland Security declared that Montserrat nationals must leave the US by February 2005 or risk deportation if their status could not be adjusted

The bill will provide for adjustment of i

US Senator Charles Schumer introduced legislation to provide adjustment of immigration status to nationals of Montseratt who are currently in the US under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In 1995 volcanic activity began on the island of Montserrat forcing 8,000 of the 12,000 inhabitants to flee to various regions of the world. In 1997, 292 refugees were granted TPS in the US, renewable each year, as a result of the continuously erupting volcanoes in Montserrat.

The TPS program is being terminated because, according to Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Montseratt no longer meets the conditions for designation under the TPS program. Since the volcanic eruptions are ongoing they can no longer be considered "temporary"as required by Congress when it enacted the TPS statute. The Montserrat nationals face deportation in February 2005 if they cannot get their status adjusted. On the island of Montserrat, the volcanic activity is in its 10th year and as a result about 2/3 of the island is uninhabitable, with the island's economy, infrastructure and most property virtually destroyed. These individuals in the US under the TPS program have been in the country for almost eight years and have settled here socially and economically, raising families, attending universities and some becoming homeowners.

"This is a group of people who suffered a terrible disaster, forcing them to leave their homes and livelihoods behind and start again in a new place, and after more than seven years of rebuilding their lives here in the US, they are faced with imminent deportation unless we act now," Schumer said.

Schumer's legislation, cited as the `Montserrat Immigration Fairness Act' will allow for adjustment of immigration status to nationals of Montseratt provided they apply for adjustment of status within a certain time frame and are determined to be admissible to the United States for permanent residence.