April 25, 2018 By Tara Law
The Trump administration is likely to cancel a humanitarian program that allows many Nepalese citizens to live and work legally in the United States, reports say.
Members of the Queens Nepalese community are calling on the Trump administration to preserve Nepal’s Temporary Protected Status after the Washington Post reported yesterday that the administration is considering canceling their temporary residency permits, which are granted to citizens of countries experiencing humanitarian crises.
Nepal received Temporary Protected Status after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country on April 25, 2015. The administration’s decision would affect 8,950 Nepalese immigrants in the United States, 85 percent of whom live in New York, according to the New York Immigration Coalition.
If the Trump administration cancels their eligibility under the program, they would be granted a 12 month “grace period” to either revise their legal status or leave the country.
Roughly 350,000 people–from a handful of nations–are currently living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status. In the last year, the Trump administration has announced that it is ending the program for citizens of El Salvador and Haiti.
Members of the Nepalese community and immigrant advocacy organization New York Immigration Coalition will conduct a vigil at Satya Narayan Mandir at 75-15 Woodside Ave at 6:30 p.m. tonight to commemorate the third anniversary of the earthquake, which claimed 9,000 lives, and to demand the administration preserve Nepal’s Temporary Protected Status.
Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, decried the the Trump administration’s decision to reevaluate Nepal’s status as “spiteful.”
“After the devastating earthquake that literally ripped their home to pieces, thousands of Nepalis have successfully remade their lives in our New York, becoming a key piece of the fabric of our communities,” said Choi. “America will not be greater or safer by forcing them to leave, tearing them out of our economy and sending them home to a still unstable country.”
Pranthana Gurung, a spokesperson for Adhikaar, a community-based group that advocates for Nepalese citizens, said that the announcement had made the Nepalese community feel as though they are living “in limbo.”
Members of the community, he said, are unsure whether they will lose access to work permits and health insurance, as well as their ability to operate small businesses.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Gurung said.
According to Gurung, most Nepalese immigrants are in no position to return to their home country. A great deal of rebuilding still needs to be done in Nepal, he said, and many are providing the funds they earn in America to help their families survive back home.
Nepal also experienced flooding and landslides due to extreme rain this September, which killed more than 1,000 people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Today, 2.6 million of Nepal’s population of 2.8 million are considered to be displaced, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Center.