Congress Must Act Now to Protect Nepali TPS Holders

“I work in Manhattan as a food delivery person. There is danger and stress about COVID-19 everywhere, but I need to go to work anyway. During this time I could also get coronavirus, fortunately, that has not happened. But I am worried and scared. I have a large bag of medication I need to take daily. I need to go to work every day because this job helps me and my family survive. Through TPS I have a work permit and pay taxes which helps me and economically supports this country. If TPS is canceled, we are all going to be out of work. We are surviving because of TPS. If TPS holders are given permanent residency, it would let hundreds of thousands of immigrants like me continue to work, help save lives, and rebuild this economy.”

– Bishnu Hirachan, Nepali TPS holder, and Adhikaar member

Despite strong social and cultural ties to the U.S. and significant contributions to the U.S. economy, the future of nearly 15,000 Nepali Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders remains uncertain. The 2018 decision by the Trump Administration to terminate TPS for Nepal, and subsequent court decisions by the 9th Circuit allowing a potential end to these designations, places the lives of Nepali TPS holders and their families at risk of deportation. Congress must act now to protect Nepali TPS holders.

Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice recently conducted the first-ever national survey of Nepali TPS holders in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California San Diego titled, “Nepali TPS Holders Make Significant Contributions to America”. The data revealed what we already know: Nepali TPS holders have built strong social and cultural roots in the U.S. and make vital contributions to the U.S. economy, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are highlights from the survey and specific ways Congress can create a pathway for citizenship for Nepali TPS holders:

Nepali TPS holders’ Contribution to the U.S. economy:

The data show that Nepali TPS holders are making positive and significant economic contributions, including earning higher wages after receiving TPS, which translates into greater tax revenue and economic growth that benefits all Americans. According to the official USCIS data, Nepali TPS holders live in 31 of the 50 states in the U.S. States with the largest number of Nepali TPS holders include Texas, California, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Colorado, etc.

Work authorization is crucial to allowing Nepali TPS holders to participate and contribute to the U.S. economy. The data show that just more than 9 out of 10 respondents, or 91.7 percent, received work authorization after receiving TPS. Through a work permit, they’ve pursued education and job prospects, and after receiving TPS, 94.3% of respondents reported that TPS allowed them to continue working, 59.1% opened a bank account, 31.2% purchased a car, and 4.1% purchased a home.

“After receiving TPS, I opened my own business and bought a house in Eagle, Colorado. Now I own a transportation company. I felt that I have achieved my dream, but what I don’t have is the uncertainty of how long I will be able to stay in this country after contributing my 23 years to the United States. I have a U.S. citizen son who is attending Colorado State University. He needs our backing through guidance and economical support. I was already apart from my family but now I can’t do it anymore.”

– Nabin Rai, Nepali TPS holder, and Adhikaar member

Nepali TPS holders are a critical part of the U.S. workforce and the community and have brought a diverse array of skills to the labor force and the U.S. economy. They work in a range of sectors, including accounting, engineering, small business, home healthcare, and entertainment. Many Nepali TPS holders are essential workers — working in grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and as domestic workers, package delivery workers, and drivers for ride-share companies. They have kept the country running through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Nepali TPS holders’ Strong Ties to the U.S:

On average, Nepali TPS holders immigrated to the U.S. in 2009, over a decade ago. They came to the U.S. with a range of visas, including tourist visas, student visas, religious workers visas, business visitor visas, employment visas, family-based visas, etc. Since receiving TPS, 84.9% reported feeling like they belong in the U.S. more after receiving TPS. 90.1% claim to feel less concerned about their safety and well-being because of TPS. According to the report, “a staggering 81.5 percent of the Nepali TPS holders surveyed “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that, “If I returned to Nepal, I would be concerned about the physical safety of myself and my family.” Among respondents who have U.S.-citizen children, this increased to 85.3 percent. 45.9 percent of those with children reported thinking about how losing TPS would mean not being able to see their children grow up. This increases significantly, to 66.1 percent, among those with U.S.-citizen children.

Advocacy Recommendation for the Biden-Harris Administration:

  • To protect the 400,000 vulnerable TPS holders from potential deportation, within the first 100 days of the new administration, President Biden’s administration must redesignate Nepal and the other eligible countries for TPS.
  • If countries are not designated for TPS by October of 2021, President Biden must designate those countries for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) through executive action.

Advocacy Recommendation for the 117th Congress:

In Congress, Adhikaar is advocating for the passage of:

  • Legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for all 11million undocumented individuals, Dreamers, and TPS holders. 
  • The SECURE Act, reintroduced by Senator Van Hollen, would provide permanent residency to TPS holders, and
  • An amended version of HR6 (The American Dream and Promise Act) that integrates the United We Dream 2021 Dream and Promise Act recommendations.

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