By Naeisha Rose
U. S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) called the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end the temporary protected status designation for Nepali immigrants “heartless and senseless” in a joint statement.
“They are abandoning nearly 9,000 Nepalese citizens who have found safety and stability in our country,” the elected officials said in a joint statement.
The April 26 announcement came a day after the deadline by which DHS was to determine if it would extend or terminate TPS for the nearly 9,000 Nepali immigrants who were allowed into the country after surviving two earthquakes in Nepal on April 25, 2015 and May 12, 2015.
The expiration date for the TPS-holders, however, will be extended for 12 months.
Nepali TPS holders would have originally been expected to leave the country June 24 of this year, but DHS wanted the transition out of the United States to be smooth for the immigrants.
“The decision to terminate TPS for Nepal was made after a review of the environmental disaster-related conditions upon which the country’s original designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist as required by statute,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
Many Nepali individuals live in Jackson Heights, Ridgewood, Sunnyside, and Woodside and are restaurateurs, according to real estate magazine brick
“Nepalese citizens are not a threat but an asset to America, and they should be allowed to stay here,” the officials said. “This decision just further reinforces President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and disregard for America’s values.”
The southeast Asian country is in the Himalayan mountain range and in April 2015 it was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake 17 days later, according to the Mayor’s office of Immigrant Affairs.
The earthquakes triggered landslides, collapsed buildings, and left hundreds of thousands of Nepali people without shelter, medicine or food, according to Oxfam, a global organization that tackles poverty.
Representatives of Oxfam have slowly been trying to build new latrines, install water systems and provide shelter for the Nepali people that are already displaced.
Weeks ahead of the DHS decision, Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a letter to Nielsen and Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan calling for a December 2019 extension for the Nepali TPS holders.
“Conditions in Nepal have not improved enough for the nation to reabsorb individuals who currently hold TPS status,” de Blasio said. “I urge you to recognize the extraordinary hardships caused by the country’s still incomplete recovery and extend Nepal’s TPS designation for an additional 18 months.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose