District 22

Costa Constantinides

Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside

Constantinides, Richards Resolution Condemns Aggressive Trump Policy Against Nepalis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

March 28, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
718-274-4500

Constantinides,
Richards Resolution Condemns Aggressive Trump Policy Against Nepalis

Introduction
Comes as End to TPS Threatens Immigrations Status for Thousands of Immigrants

New York City Hall — Council
Members Costa Constantinides and Donovan Richardstoday formally
condemned the Trump administration’s misguided decision to officially revoke
later this year temporary protective status (TPS) for thousands of Nepalese
living in the United States.

A resolution the Council Member
introduced at Thursday’s stated meeting calls on the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) to keep the TPS designation for eligible Nepalese,
which will allow them to live and work without fear of deportation.

“The Nepalese are vital to New
York City’s growth, especially in western Queens,” said Council Member Costa
Constantinides, District 22
. “They have come here to seek a better life
amid turmoil back home, and they chose the greatest city in the world because
we welcome the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses. We will not tolerate
ICE agents menacing around schools and courthouses. This is the opposite of
what America is supposed to embody. I want the Trump administration to know his
aggressive hate policies have no place here.”

“Our diverse neighborhoods in Queens are our
overwhelming strength and the Nepalese community has become a critical part of
the World’s Borough,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “It is
completely unacceptable to end their temporary protective status only four
years after an earthquake devastated their homeland and left about 15,000
Nepalese in need of safety and security within our borders. I’m proud to stand
with Council Member Constantinides to condemn the federal government’s inhumane
immigration policies.”

TPS gives certain protection to
immigrant communities fleeing a natural disaster or civil unrest in their
respective homeland. Sadly, Nepal has endured both since a 7.9-magnitude
earthquake in April 2015 that killed an estimated 9,000 people and destroyed
some 600,000 homes. The event sparked Homeland Security to grant TPS for
Nepalese in the United States, as civil unrest, rampant crime and political
uncertainty followed the natural disaster. Kathmandu, the mountainous Asian
nation’s capital, is considered by the U.S. State Department to be a hotspot
for violence.   

Yet the Trump administration
decided last Spring, ahead of the earthquakes’ three-year anniversary, to roll
back Nepalese TPS protection effective June 24, 2019. An estimated 15,000
Nepalese are currently protected under TPS nationwide, according to a February
2019 lawsuit filed against DHS in San Francisco. These residents, including an estimated
5,000 across New York City
, will be at risk of deportation if the Trump
plan goes through, according to local advocacy group Adhikaar.

While the Trump administration
recently put the end on hold, its future now
depends
on the outcome of the pending lawsuit against the Trump
administration.

The resolution now before the
Council “condemns” the DHS decision, and argues the nation “continues to meet
the criteria of a country entitled to TPS due to slow recovery efforts related
to extensive damage to infrastructure and regular monsoon rains.” It notes an estimated
82% of all TPS recipients are in the workforce, which is significantly higher
than the general population.

“The efforts to recovery has been
slow due to multiple factors including but not limited to political
instability, difficult geographical locations and lack of infrastructures,”
said Dr. Keshab Paudel, the President of the Non Resident Nepali
Association, USA
. “TPS has helped at least 9,000 TPS holders to support
their family in Nepal. Continuation of the TPS for Nepalese will help
contribute in the US and their family back in Nepal.”

“Numerous setbacks in recovery
prevent Nepali TPS holders from returning safely,” said Ram Hari Adhikari,
President of the New York Chapter of the Non-Resident Nepali Association
National Coordination Council, USA
. “Failure to extend TPS would put
approximately 9,000 TPS holders and their families at tremendous risk of
housing, food and water insecurity, as well as facing a lack of access to
health care, education, employment and other services. Nepal needs time to
implement its housing reconstruction program to provide housing and other
fundamental public infrastructure. Continued TPS for Nepal satisfies our moral
and international obligations until greater progress is made to ensure innocent
people are not returned to dangerous conditions. Continuation of the TPS
program for Nepalese living in the USA, can continue to contribute to the
community here at the US and support family back home.”

“After a massive earthquake in
2015, Nepal still under construction. Those who are here from Nepal work hard,
pay government tax, and send whatever money is leftover back home. Also they
are honest people looking for better future. Most of their children can’t speak
Nepal because they were born and raised with a U.S. Education. All the while,
they are supporting this country’s rules and regulation. We should respect each
other in a humanitarian way,” said Mohan Gyawali Chhetri, member of
Community Board 5, Queens
.

“TPS benefits are a reprieve
from deportation and authorization to work. TPS holders may also apply for
 special permission to travel internationally and return to the United
States,” said Raj Kumar Bista, Senior Vice President of the Federation
of Indigenous Peoples of Nepal in America
. “A devastating
7.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the entire country of Nepal in April 2015, and
claimed more than 9,000 people, injured more than 17,000, displaced hundreds of
thousands, and many more factories have been destroyed. So lack of job
opportunities and there is ‘ongoing armed conflict’ that creates unsafe
conditions for returning nationals.”  

The Nepali community has
significantly grown in the Big Apple, with well over 10,000 people estimated
who call New York City home. A large share of those Nepalese live in western
Queens, particularly Jackson Heights. Earlier this month, Constantinides joined
with the community to unveil the co-named “Mount Everest Way” street at 75th
Street and 31st Avenue.

Council Member Costa
Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which
includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and
Jackson Heights. He serves as the Chair of the City Council’s Environmental
Protection Committee and sits on the For-Hire Vehicles, Land Use, Parks, and
Transportation Committees and the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. For more
information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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