Renew protected status for Nepalese 1

Last month, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs published our first annual report, celebrating the diversity of our city’s immigrant communities and proudly showcasing local government’s work to promote the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. Immigrant New Yorkers make up a bigger proportion of New York City than they have in a century, at the same time our economy is booming and we’re experiencing record low levels of crime. Together with our immigrant sisters and brothers, we’re creating a more equitable and just New York.

Among our diverse and vibrant immigrant communities are Nepali New Yorkers. Our city is home to the largest Nepalese community in the country, with nearly 8,000 Nepalese New Yorkers living throughout the five boroughs. Later this month, the Trump administration will make a determination on Temporary Protected Status for Nepal. New York City’s position is clear: TPS for Nepal must be extended.

Nepalese New Yorkers are a great example of the dynamism and growth our city is experiencing. The Nepali population has increased 60 percent since 2010. Of the 8,000 New Yorkers born in Nepal, almost 7,000 live in Queens.

These New Yorkers are making their mark in the city through establishing beautiful Hindu and Buddhist temples, contributing to our economy, serving exquisite cuisine in neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and leading vital community organizations like Adhikaar and the United Sherpa Association. We are proud to have partnered with both Adhikaar and USA on important programs like the city’s free English-language learning program We Are New York and our municipal ID program IDNYC. By working directly with leaders in the Nepali community, we have made our city more inclusive and accessible for a growing, thriving and contributing community of New Yorkers.

But the Trump administration might threaten the progress we’ve made together by terminating TPS for Nepal. Across the United States, TPS provides work authorization and protection from deportation to approximately 300,000 people from 10 countries, including 15,000 New Yorkers. As the Trump administration wrongly terminated TPS for Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador, which all have faced situations similar to Nepal’s, the city will continue to highlight the importance of renewing Nepalese TPS.

In 2015, after a series of devastating earthquakes in Nepal killed thousands of people and decimated critical infrastructure, the federal government established TPS for Nepalese people living in the United States who couldn’t safely return home. The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and State did so in recognition that it would be inhumane to force people to return to a country that was unable to safely reabsorb them. Nepal is struggling to rebuild from this awful tragedy.

So while the stakes of this decision are high, the Mayor’s Office stands firmly with Nepalese New Yorkers. Mayor de Blasio recently sent a letter to the Trump administration, seeking a full 18-month renewal of TPS for Nepal.

In our annual report for 2017, we emphasized our efforts to advocate for TPS recipients. In the five boroughs, our office has worked with a local coalition of leaders from the religious, labor and advocacy communities, as well as elected officials, to connect New Yorkers with TPS to city and community resources, including free and safe immigration legal services available through ActionNYC. Nationally, our Cities for Action coalition of over 175 mayors and county executives works to advocate for immigrant communities, including TPS recipients.

If this is an important issue for you, call the White House at (202) 456-1111, call the Department of Homeland Security at (202) 282-8000 and call the State Department at (202) 647-4000 to make your voice heard. Advocacy will always be central to our work, and in this ultimate city of immigrants, we will always stand up with our fellow New Yorkers.

Bitta Mostofi is Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.