In mid March, Councilman Costa Constantinides stood with the borough’s Nepali community as it was honored with a street co-naming in Jackson Height.
Now Constantinides is fighting for that same community as the Trump administration is threatening to end temporary protected status later this year for thousands of Nepalese immigrants, many of whom have settled in western Queens.
Constantinides and Councilman Donovan Richards introduced a resolution condemning the action and calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to keep the TPS designation for eligible Nepalese, which will allow them to live and work without fear of deportation.
“The Nepalese are vital to New York City’s growth, especially in western Queens,” Constantinides said. “They have come here to seek a better life amid turmoil back home, and they chose the greatest in the world because we welcome the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses. We will not tolerate ICE agents menacing around schools and courthouses. This is the opposite of what America is supposed to embody. I want the Trump administration to know his aggressive hate policies have no place here.”
TPS gives certain protection to immigrant communities fleeing a natural disaster or civil unrest in their respective homeland. Nepal has endured both since a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in April 2015 that killed early 9,000 people and destroyed some 600,000 homes. The event sparked Homeland Security to grant TPS for Nepalese in the U.S., as civil unrest, rampant crime and political uncertainty followed the natural disaster.
“Our diverse neighborhoods in Queens are our overwhelming strength and the Nepalese community has become a critical part of the ‘World’s Borough,’” Richards said. “It is completely unacceptable to end their temporary protective status only four years after an earthquake devastated their homeland and left about 15,000 Nepalese in need of safety and security within our borders. I am proud to stand with Council member Constantinides to condemn the federal government’s inhumane immigration policies.”
The resolution now before the City Council “condemns” the DHS decision, and argues the nation “continues to meet the criteria of a country entitled to TPS due to slow recovery efforts related to extensive damage to infrastructure and regular monsoon rains.” More than 10,000 have settled in the city, with most of them living in Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst.
“Nepal is still under construction. Those who are here from Nepal work hard, pay government tax, and send whatever money is leftover back home,” Community Board 5 member Mohan Gyawali Chhetri said. “Also, they are honest people looking for a better future. Most of their children can’t speak Nepali because they were born and raised with a U.S. education. All the while, they are supporting this country’s rules and regulations. We should respect each other in a humanitarian way.”