It is estimated that there are at least one million undocumented Filipinos in the United States who face uncertainty under the new Donald Trump administration.
Even during his presidential campaign, Trump has always been clear about his stance on immigration, not just in terms of America’s southern neighbor Mexico, but also with regards to other nationals whom he considers a threat to national security such as refugees from Syria, immigrants from other Muslim countries, and undocumented individuals with criminal records. It is not far-fetched that with Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, immigrants from other countries like China, India and the Philippines will face as much scrutiny.
Many Filipinos and Filipino Americans are questioning President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance that undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. will not get any help from his administration because of the policy not to interfere with the laws of other countries. This policy is, of course, consistent with Duterte’s pronouncements that he will neither allow other countries and governments to interfere with the Philippines’ internal affairs.
To expect Duterte to take any action on behalf of undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. reflects a lack of understanding not just of Trump’s policy but of U.S. immigration policy in general.
It is no secret, for example, that the Obama administration has a record of having deported more undocumented immigrants than any of its predecessors. Illegal immigration is an issue that has haunted every White House administration.
The sad truth is that there is nothing much that Duterte or Filipino immigration advocates can do about the uncertain future of undocumented Pinoys.
We commend the work of immigrant rights groups in the U.S., including Filipino advocacy organizations that are doing all they can to help the undocumented.
But the law is the law, and Politikal Pinoy understands that regardless of who is president, the United States has always pursued policies and actions that are not always favorable to undocumented immigrants. As a matter of fact, a U.S. Congress ruled by Republicans does not bode well for foreign nationals in pursuit of the American dream. It can only further complicate Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The best that can be done by Duterte and immigrant rights groups is to advocate for more humanitarian policy as well as the pursuit of and adherence to due process when dealing with the undocumented community. And that is the inconvenient truth.