Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New Survey Shows Nepali TPS Holders Make Significant Contributions to American Economy and Society
Press Release

RELEASE: New Survey Shows Nepali TPS Holders Make Significant Contributions to American Economy and Society

Washington, D.C. — Since being granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Nepali TPS holders have found a deeper sense of security and have been able to thrive and deeply contribute to the U.S economy and society. Ending these protections would be counterproductive and even put lives at risk. These are the main results of the first systematic survey that dives into the demographics of Nepali TPS holders, published today by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego; Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice; and the Center for American Progress.

TPS has provided work authorization and protection from deportation to approximately 14,800 Nepali individuals in the United States since 2015. This new national survey of 372 Nepali TPS holders living in 31 U.S. states and territories was conducted by phone from June 24, 2020, to August 3, 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and while several lawsuits, such as Bhattarai v. Nielsen, are still in place to fight back against the Trump administration’s decision to terminate protections for Nepali TPS holders as well as TPS holders from other countries.

The results show a large majority of the Nepali TPS holders surveyed remain deeply concerned about their safety if they have to return to Nepal. A staggering 81.5 percent of respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement, “If I returned to Nepal, I would be concerned about the physical safety of myself and my family.” Among respondents who have U.S.-citizen children, this increased to 85.3 percent.

When asked how often they thought about not having TPS:

  • 68.7 percent reported thinking about it once a day or more.
  • 54.3 percent reported thinking about being deported once a day or more, while 41.4 percent reported thinking about deportation separating them from their families once a day or more.
  • 45.9 percent of those with children reported thinking about how losing TPS would mean not being able to see their children grow up. This increases significantly, to 66.1 percent, among those with U.S.-citizen children.

The data shows TPS enhances inclusion, belonging, and opportunity:

  • 84.9 percent of respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “I feel like I belong more in the U.S. because of TPS.”
  • 90.4 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “I am less concerned about my safety and well-being because of TPS.”
  • 85 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “I am less concerned about the safety and well-being of my family because of TPS.”
  • 27.2 percent also reported that they have become more politically active since receiving TPS.
  • Approximately 38 percent reported having a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 47.9 percent agreed that, “because of TPS, I have been able to pursue educational opportunities that I previously could not.”

Nepali TPS holders are contributing to the U.S. economy, and many of them are essential workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines as doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, and restaurant workers as well as in package and delivery services. In that sense, work authorization is crucial to allowing Nepali TPS holders to participate in and contribute to the U.S. economy. Among the survey’s key findings:

  •  91.7 percent received work authorization after receiving TPS.
  • Among respondents who were working in the United States prior to the 2015 earthquakes, a full 94.3 percent reported that receiving TPS has allowed them to continue working.
  • 76.7 percent of respondents agreed that because of TPS, “I have been able to earn more money, which helped my family financially.”
  • 62.7 percent said that because of TPS, “I was able to get a job that better fits my education and training.”
  • 59.1 percent of respondents reported opening bank accounts in the United States.
  • 31.2 percent reported purchasing a car.
  • 4.6 percent reported purchasing a home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected all Americans, and the survey shows that this is no less true for Nepali TPS holders:

  • Although 70.4 percent of respondents between the ages of 25 and 65 are currently employed, 58 percent reported having their work hours reduced due to the pandemic.
  • Among those who are not employed, 60.9 percent reported having lost their job within the past three months due to the pandemic.
  • Among these individuals, 11.9 percent reported that no one in their household had received a stimulus check from the federal government.
  • 24.5 percent reported having difficulty paying their rent or mortgage due to the pandemic.
  • 3.5 percent of respondents reported being threatened with eviction during the pandemic. Among those who lost their job within the past three months due to the pandemic, this percentage increases to 4.5 percent.

“This is likely the first systematic survey of Nepali TPS holders. The data make vivid the important role that TPS has played in protecting the lives of Nepali TPS holders, as more than 8 in every 10 continue to fear for their physical safety if they return to Nepal,” said Tom K. Wong, associate professor of political science and founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “From having U.S.-citizen children and spouses to building careers and starting new businesses, the data also make clear that Nepali TPS holders have dug deep roots in American society.”

“We are proud to launch this first-ever report of the Nepali TPS community at a critical time for our community and this country. This research has confirmed that the Nepali TPS community is an essential part of this country’s economy and society,” said Pabitra Khati Benjamin, executive director of Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice. “Nepali TPS holders all around the country have invested in their lives here, started families, bought homes, and envisioned a future in America. But with the September 14 ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court on Ramos v. Nielsen—which subsequently affects Bhattarai v. Nielson—our communities are in danger of being removed forcibly from their families and this country they call home. Since 2015, Adhikaar has fought to protect TPS and the nearly 15,000 Nepali TPS holders, their children, and families. One thing could not be clearer from this report, and that is that Nepali TPS holders and their families belong together, and they belong here.”

“TPS has provided a lifeline for Nepali TPS holders, granting them an opportunity to build their lives and contribute to their communities, some of them as essential workers,” said Silva Mathema, associate director for policy on the Immigration Policy team at the Center for American Progress. “But Nepali TPS holders, along with others, are fighting to keep their families together and preserving what they have built. Uprooting them is not just cruel—it will also harm the economy of the communities they live in.”

Read the issue brief: “Nepali TPS Holders Make Significant Contributions to America

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at [email protected].

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