A Tale of Two Migrant Populations: One Deserving, One Not

By David North on November 25, 2013

This is a tale of two populations, both seeking U.S. immigration benefits. Both from Asia.

One is numbered in the thousands, the members have risked their lives in wartime for the United States, and they have certifiable linguistic skills.

The other is numbered in the hundreds of thousands, their main "contribution" to the United States has been breaking its laws, and its skill levels are uneven but generally unremarkable.

Which one is more likely to secure the benefits they seek?

Sadly, it is the second.

Let's identify the two groups. The first consists of interpreters hired by the U.S. military for the war in Afghanistan, the second, all illegal aliens from the Philippines now resident in the United States.

The first group, which is waiting patiently in Afghanistan, is seeking green cards based on their service to America and their fear of retribution by the Taliban. The second, which is already in this country, is hoping that the recent typhoon in the Philippines will cause the administration to grant them Temporary Protected Status.

TPS, as CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian pointed out in Senate testimony years ago, gives de facto legal status to illegal aliens and is, in fact, never terminated.

Why not give green cards to these Afghan allies of ours? The stated reason by our diplomats is that there are "no threats against their lives", according to a Washington Post story.

The genuine, underlying reason is that the government does not want to say that these men are in real danger from Taliban retaliation because to do so would be to admit the truth: that our war in that country has been far from a success. It was only after the war in Vietnam came to a disastrous end that we started admitting large numbers of our former allies in that country as refugees.

The interpreters of interest were not sitting in offices translating press releases to the local languages for our government; they were side by side with our infantry in battles for Afghan villages. We should welcome those with real combat experience on our side of the battle.

Is the Department of Homeland Security thinking about TPS status for Philippine illegals? Yes. It said so in an announcement released at 4:25 Friday afternoon, November 22.

As a recovering federal press officer (Department of the Interior), I know that is exactly the timing of an announcement that an agency feels it must release, but wants to get as little attention as possible. It read in part:

Members of Congress and members of the community have requested that the Philippines receive a designation of Temporary Protected Status, commonly known as "TPS." The Department of Homeland Security, along with other federal agencies, is reviewing these requests, the conditions in the Philippines, and other relevant factors in assessing whether a TPS designation is warranted.

I am on a USCIS distribution list and received a "Stakeholder's Update" on this subject. I have not seen an electronic posting of the notice.

Yes, the typhoon was a terrible one and our military and USAID are both responding appropriately and vigorously. Further, we should not deport anyone to the islands of Leyte or Samar or nearby ones for, say six months to a year.

But those two islands have a total population of 3.4 million, and it is senseless to even think about granting TPS to people from all over that country of 98 million people because a terrible storm has seriously damaged the territory of less than 4 percent of the population. Even if the storm damage hit 10 percent of the population, the point remains.

The problem is that in the past TPS has never been granted to people from part of a nation, it has always been granted to aliens from an entire nation that is felt to be badly hurt by revolution, earthquake, or storm. The power to create an additional TPS situation rests with the DHS Secretary; Congress has no say in the matter.

TPS gives temporary legal status and work authorization to all residents of an endangered nation who are here in the United States either illegally or in a nonimmigrant status, as well as preventing the deportation of anyone to that nation. The former benefit always involves more than 100 times as many people as the second, as the volume of deportations (despite the cries of the mas-migration people) is a much smaller number.

To support that point, look at the official DHS estimate of illegals resident in this nation from the Philippines in 2011: 270,000. How many from that nation were removed (i.e., deported) that year? According to Table 41 of the 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics it was only 675.

Yes, we should not deport any residents of the typhoon areas for the next year or so, but no, we should not grant legal status to 270,000 illegals from that entire country because of the storm.

A decision to grant TPS to all illegal entrants from the Philippines, however, would be in the tradition of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and of the wholesale use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters.

All of these actions bring about a piecemeal, administrative amnesty while Congress, so far, has refused to do anything of the kind on a nationwide basis.

I would be saddened and outraged were DHS to use TPS in this situation, but not surprised.