Nepalese Anxious over TPS

Members of the Nepalese community at the April 25 event sponsored by Adhikaar in Queens. (Photo by Anuz Thapa for Voices of NY)

TPS recipients are in fear about their future and asking, “what happens next?”

On April 26, the Department of Homeland Security announced that temporary protected status (TPS) for Nepalese in the U.S., adopted June 24, 2015 in the wake of the severe earthquake that devastated Nepal two months earlier, would be cancelled and that to allow for “an orderly transition,” the program would officially end on June 24, 2019.

Adhikaar, a nonprofit organization working with New York’s Nepalese community, hosted an event on April 25 at Satya Narayan Mandir in Jackson Heights, Queens, at which concerns about TPS were voiced by many. Organizers had planned the event to mark the third anniversary of the April 2015 earthquake, which took nearly 9,000 lives in Nepal. But just one day before the event, the news about the likely cancellation of TPS obliged them to address worries in the community.

Pabitra Benjamin, executive director of Adhikaar, tried to console TPS recipients at the event.

“We urge you not to be discouraged,” she said. “We are committed to continuing this fight for all, with you all.”

More than 150 people attended the event, which ran more than three hours. More than half of the attendees were TPS recipients.

“Because of TPS, I was able to go back to my country eight years after coming to the U.S.,” said TPS recipient Brinda Rai, 60, while addressing the crowd. Now, she said, “I don’t know what happens to my insurance, my status and other benefits.”

TPS holder Brinda Rai, speaking at the April 25 event sponsored by Adhikaar. (Photo by Anuz Thapa for Voices of NY)

Her eyes filled with tears while she spoke, which created an emotional atmosphere at the event. Rai came to the U.S. in 2007 on a tourist visa and has been living in Woodside, Queens.

Nepalese-American attorney Dilli Raj Bhatta advised undocumented immigrants to know their rights.

“Please don’t sign anything if ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) comes to your house,” he said. “Tell them, I won’t speak to you and I will only talk to my lawyer.”

DHS granted TPS status to qualifying immigrants from Nepal on June 24, 2015. The 18-month TPS status was extended once. Any Nepalese TPS holders who remain in the U.S. after the expiration of the program on June 24, 2019 will face the possibility of deportation. More than 9,000 Nepalese residing in the U.S. are TPS recipients, and the majority are believed to live in the New York area.

Multimedia reporter Anuz Thapa is a 2017 graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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