Trump calling PH a ‘terrorist nation’ is absurd
At a campaign rally in Portland, Maine, earlier this month, Presidential candidate Donald Trump discussed his plans to suspend the entry of nationals from terrorist nations into the United States because it’s too difficult to vet terrorists. In his speech, Mr. Trump named the Philippines as one of the terrorist nations whose immigrants, or in Mr. Trump’s words “animals,” have been arrested in the United States for terrorism-related offenses.
Not only is Mr. Trump’s inclusion of the Philippines offensive considering the historical relationship between the Philippines and the United States, but it sends the wrong message to Filipino immigrants in the US and future immigrants from the Philippines.
The U.S. Department of State designates only three countries as states sponsoring terrorism — Iran, Syria and Sudan — and the Philippines is not one of them. The United States and the Philippines have strong historical ties as allies. We were allies in the fight against fascism during World War II. During the Cold War, the U.S. military bases were present in the Philippines for more than half a century. In the present war on terror, the Philippines entered into an agreement with the U.S. to allow U.S. soldiers to be stationed in some areas in the Philippines to train local forces on counter terror operations.
So how can the Philippines be on the list as a terrorist nation? Was Mr. Trump referring to a dangerous terrorist group called Abu Sayyaf in Southern Philippines? This extremist group has been designated as a terrorist group even by the Philippine government together with other nations, like UK, Canada, Australia and the United States, among others. How can a terrorist group not be distinguished from a terrorist nation?
Filipinos have been coming to America for over 100 years. Filipino immigrants are one of the largest foreign-born groups in the United States. Latest Census data indicate that there are 3.4 million Filipinos (native- and foreign-born), the second largest Asian ethnic group in the United States. Studies show that the median income of Filipino households headed by an immigrant was $82,370 as of 2013, far above the $53,000 of United States-born households.
Filipino Americans (most of whom are voters) have family members who are in the Philippines and a significant number of these Filipinos have pending petitions for their family members. Currently, there is a pending backlog of 400,000 petitions where applicants for visas have been patiently waiting for visa availability. Instead of barring admission based on assumptions, presidential candidates should consider supporting federal legislative reforms that will eliminate the visa backlogs and create a more efficient immigration system for family members of U.S. citizens and residents. The changes must reflect policies that promote family unification, facilitate immigrant assimilation and boost economic growth.
Lawful Filipino immigrants who have played by the rules and who have contributed to the growth of this nation must be recognized. In this war on terror, the Philippines and the United States are allies as they have been historically. On the immigration policy of admitting immigrants, both permanent and temporary, the vetting procedures for those who wish to enter the United States is quite extensive.
The various levels of security checks that a person undergoes before being issued a temporary and permanent resident visa are comprehensive enough to determine who are threats to national security. If, in fact, the current vetting policy is not enough, the solution is certainly not to bar admission of nationals of a country who have always been an ally of the United States.
(Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco, Esq. is an immigration attorney with the Tancinco Law Offices, a San Francisco CA based law firm. She may be reached at 1 888 930 0808, [email protected] , facebook.com/tancincolaw, or through her website www.tancinco.com)
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