Congressman AL Green (D) Working At In-Kind Donation Center of Helping Hand USA Collecting Things For Flood Victims Of Pakistan (www.hhrd.org)
Last week, Congressman Al Green (TX-09) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives which would grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Pakistani nationals affected by the devastating floods that ravaged Pakistan this past summer. Temporary Protected Status allows aliens who do not legally qualify as refugees, but are nonetheless fleeing or reluctant to return to potentially dangerous situations, to temporarily remain in the United States.
Under the Pakistani Temporary Protected Status Act of 2010 (H.R. 6505), applicants would be eligible for TPS if they had been continuously physically present in the United States since July 22, 2010, which is the date when the floods began. Additionally, the applicant should be admissible as an immigrant, except as otherwise provided under section 244(c)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
â€œThe people of Pakistan have suffered a very traumatic tragedy and I think providing this TPS is necessary to help them attain a sense of stability in the United States while their country recovers. Furthermore, Pakistan is our military ally, as well as an important trade partner and I believe those are also factors which reinforce the merit of this bill,â€ commented Congressman Al Green.
The summer floods, the most destructive Pakistan has suffered in the last 80 years, began in the month of July following heavy monsoon rains in several regions. According to the United Nations, 20 million people have been significantly affected by the loss of property and infrastructure. The estimates from the Pakistani government indicate that almost 2,000 people lost their lives and that more than 12 million people have required humanitarian assistance, with nearly six million victims lacking access to food, shelter, and water.
Congressman Al Green stressed that the floods have gravely damaged the livelihood of the Pakistani people as approximately 17 million acres of the nationâ€™s most fertile croplands have been submerged and large quantities of stored food supplies were washed away by the waters. â€œThis shows that the scope of the devastation is very broad. Every sector of the population is affected,â€ he said.
Since the floods occurred, Congressman Al Green has been in frequent contact with members of Houston â€™s Pakistani community, including various local leaders, as well as the Pakistani Consulate and civic groups. He has also held several meetings to assess the situation in Pakistan.
The former President of the Pakistani American-Association of Greater Houston (PAAGH), Khalid Khan, indicated that while the recovery process in Pakistan is slow, due in part to the financial challenges brought on by the global recession, significant progress has been made. Mr. Khan praised Congressman Greenâ€™s involvement and emphasized that â€œwhen our whole community was in distress due to the severity of this natural disaster, he came to help. This bill to establish a TPS designation for the victims is just one more of the multiple promises the Congressman has fulfilled.â€
Mr. Ghulam Bombaywala, former president of the PAAGH, agreed with Mr. Khanâ€™s comments. â€œI believe a TPS program would be a great help for the Pakistani flood victims who are currently in the United States, some of them with pending paperwork regarding their migratory status,â€ he asserted.
Former Houston City Council member M. J. Khan also highlighted the relevance of the bill introduced by Congressman Al Green. â€œIt is very timely because many members of the Pakistani community are still in a difficult situation having suffered both personal and material losses they have suffered. What America could do to help us has been a regular topic of discussion amongst us and a TPS program would be one of the best options right now,â€ he said.
The Pakistani Consul General in Houston, Mohammad Aqil Nadeem, also commended the Congressmanâ€™s idea. â€œWe are grateful for his keen interest and for his Congressional initiative to support the victims of the floods and to extend help in rehabilitating them,â€ he noted.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.