Los Angeles has joined the roster of major cities calling on the US government to grant Filipino immigrants protection from deportation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
The LA City Council voted Tuesday night for a resolution that urges the Department of Homeland Security to designate the Philippines for Temporary Protected Status, which allows immigrants to live and work in the US for a finite period of time.
An estimated 280,000 Filipinos in the U.S. who don't have legal status stand to benefit from TPS.
Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell authored the resolution, at the encouragement of the Pilipino Workers Center which is based in his district.
O'Farrell said in a statement, “It would be irresponsible to deport those Philippine nationals back to their native country which has limited resources after Super Typhoon Haiyan delivered such a devastating blow."
For more than 20 years, the U.S. has offered temporary protected status for immigrants in situations where it's unsafe to return them to their home countries — such as civil war or natural disaster. Immigrants from more than eight countries are covered by the status, the majority of whom are from El Salvador, which has been shaken by earthquakes and civil war.
The LA City council joins leaders in San Francisco and New York in calling for TPS for the Philippines.
California's Filipino population — one of the country's largest —has been assisting in relief efforts for central Philippines since it was bludgeoned by the typhoon last November.
Aquilina Soriano Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center, said it would be "devastating" to deport these Filipino nationals since many are working and sending remittances home.
"Not only does it add one more person to the millions that need to be resettled but it also is going to end a string of income that is supporting families there," Soriano Versoza said.
She estimates that the special status could cover as many as 100,000 Filipinos in southern California.