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Temporary Benefit Would Help Nepalese—Who Through No Fault Of Own—May Be in Danger Of Visa Overstays, Even Deportation; TPS Has Been Used In Past For Countries In Wake Of Natural Disaster  

Schumer: As Their Homeland Struggles From Once-In-A-Lifetime Disaster, Nepalese Across New York City Deserve TPS During Crisis

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nepalese nationals currently residing in the United States. TPS is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to foreign nationals in the United States whose country has been devastated by natural disaster.  It would allow Nepalese nationals, already in the country, to stay in the U.S. for a set period of time while their home country recovers.  In response to past natural disasters, the U.S. has extended TPS to Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, Schumer is asking that eligible Nepalese nationals be granted TPS to prevent possible deportation to a ravaged country.

“This is a temporary, compassionate and commonsense action that will remove a burden of worry from Nepalese nationals already residing here in the U.S., who may be required to return home to a devastated country. We should extend Temporary Protected Status to Nepalese here in the U.S. until Nepal is back on its feet,” said Schumer. “As Nepal recovers from this 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the U.S. can help in many ways, including granting Temporary Protected Status to eligible Nepalese nationals residing here in the U.S., which will provide reprieve to those in danger of being deported or in violation of law for overstaying their visa, through no fault of their own.  I am urging the Department of Homeland Security to grant TPS immediately as it is the right thing to do.”

On April 25th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Nepal, approximately 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu. The earthquake has resulted in roughly 6,253 deaths thus far, including 1,450 in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts, as well as approximately 10,200 injured people. The UN estimates 8 million people—nearly a third of Nepal’s population—are affected by the earthquake. It’s estimated that the earthquake destroyed more than 70,000 homes and approximately 2.8 million people countrywide are displaced.  The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens in Nepal exercise caution when traveling in or planning departure from the country. Infrastructure is fragile, access to basic resources is limited and cell phone and internet service are intermittent. In Kathmandu, some buildings are collapsed and roads are impassable.

TPS is implemented by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in consultation with the Department of State and is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to immigrants residing in the United States who are unable to safely return to their home country. TPS can be granted in the event of an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster, as well as other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Once granted TPS, individuals may not be deported, can obtain an employment authorization document and may be granted travel authorization. In addition, individuals cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of their immigration status.  However, TPS does not provide a pathway to a green card or citizenship.

TPS has been granted to beneficiaries in the past. TPS designation was granted and extended for Honduras due to Hurricane Mitch.  TPS designation was also granted to Haiti due to the 2010 earthquake. Schumer and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) wrote to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry to urge them to grant TPS for Nepalese nationals currently residing in the United States. Schumer explained that TPS would only be made available to Nepalese nationals who are already in the United States and may be otherwise subject to deportation. 

The text of the letter appears below:

Dear Secretaries Johnson and Kerry,

In light of the tremendous devastation suffered by Nepal as a result of the recent earthquake, we write to request that you grant Temporary Protected Status to eligible Nepalese nationals living in the United States.  As of today, 6,253 have reportedly died and thousands more were injured in this natural disaster.

As you know, the earthquake in Nepal has destroyed large swaths of the country, from the capital of Kathmandu to the rural areas, and caused tragic loss of life.  It is reportedly the most powerful to strike Nepal since 1934, causing casualties even in neighboring countries.  Avalanches triggered on Mount Everest killed locals and visitors, including Americans.  Ancient buildings at the core of Nepal’s heritage were destroyed, and the nation is in mourning.  Even now, the country could experience deadly aftershocks and landslides.

Almost all local resources are focused on recovery, addressing food and water shortages, and preventing the spread of disease.  You have already shown tremendous leadership in this effort by sending immediate aid from the United States, together with our international partners.  But Nepal’s task is now to rebuild a country that was already struggling with civil unrest. 

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Nepalese people are living in the United States, including in our home states of New York and Hawaii.  Now is not the time to send them back, as their country is devastated and clearly not in a position to receive them.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was created for precisely this reason – to offer temporary, humane protection to foreign nationals living in the U.S. when extraordinary conditions make it impossible for them to return home.  We believe the widespread damage and destruction in Nepal make these people eligible for TPS designation, and we urge you to swiftly consider it. 

TPS has been granted in the past in similar circumstances, and we believe this is the safest route to avoid further burdening the Nepalese government in this time of severe distress.  Current law already provides strict eligibility criteria to protect our national security, such as excluding criminals from this designation.  TPS is not a pathway to citizenship, nor is it a means for bringing over relatives.  When the TPS designation of a country is terminated, those foreign nationals revert to the immigration status they held before the designation was granted.

In short, TPS is a temporary, humane, compassionate response that the U.S. can make in addition to all the other assistance we are providing in the region.  We must assist the victims of this natural disaster.  Thank you for your consideration.


Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator

Mazie K. Hirono
United States Senator