Fil-Ams bracing for ‘Trump effect’
LOS ANGELES—Shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, a Filipino-American second-grader in a West Covina public school came home in tears after he was bullied by a white classmate.
“His classmate yelled at him, ‘Go back to your country,’” said Lester Ramos, chair of Migrante South Bay and Orange County, an activist group that protects Filipino migrant workers’ rights.
University student Kate Dolorito reported that a group of Republican students stopped her on campus and said, “You don’t belong here. Go back to where you came from, you illegal immigrant.”
Ramos said these were just some of the many incidents of bullying and harassment that have been reported since Trump was elected last November.
Teachers unions and advocacy groups have called these incidents the “Trump effect” and are working with education agencies and local governments to protect immigrant students.
“We plan to collaborate with these groups in launching an awareness campaign, as we expect this anti-immigrant climate under the incoming Trump administration,” Ramos said.
“We need to ease (the Filipino immigrants’) worries. We need to let them know (there are many of us, we’re strong). We need to fight back,” she said.
An awareness campaign video released recently by the Long Beach-based Filipino Migrant Center (FMC) echoed Ramos’ sentiments.
“There’s a big possibility that the new administration will pass harsh policies that can result in the violation of human rights and harsh treatment of immigrants,” said the video message.
But Trump supporter Don Deluna does not agree with the migrant workers’ groups.
“It’s not true that (Trump) is anti-immigrant,” said Deluna, a 47-year-old entrepreneur from Orange County. “He is anti-illegal immigrant, and he’s only going after those who are criminals.”
Deluna, who campaigned for Trump, pointed out that the incoming president has a large following among Fil-Am Christians who are hopeful that he will respect their “religious freedom to be prolife.”
“They’re evangelicals, Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians… who felt that their religious freedoms had been taken away,” he said.
Deluna said he expected Trump to defund Planned Parenthood, which offers abortion services.
He also believes that protectionism under the Trump administration “will keep jobs in America” and the overall economic agenda of Trump, who is a “businessman,” will translate into a better economic climate.
Deluna said Filipino-Americans were “educated and entrepreneurial” so they would flourish under Trump, who plans to stimulate the economy and keep entrepreneurs “motivated to innovate.”
Orlando Cagampan, leader of the local Knights of Rizal, told a recent “Talakayan” forum in Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles he hoped Trump’s economic policies would also be “friendly to the Philippines.”
“(Trump’s) policies can make or break the Philippine economy under (President) Duterte,” he said.
‘Trump likes Duterte’
Fil-Am businesswoman Rachel Gunther said she was optimistic that the Trump presidency would be friendly to the Philippines and would “eliminate whatever bad blood” there was between Mr. Duterte and the Obama administration.
“Trump likes Duterte. He invited (Duterte) to the inauguration,” said Gunther, the Fil-Am leader of Make California Great Again, a pro-Trump nonprofit launched in Long Beach last week.
Mr. Duterte had repeatedly cursed Obama over criticism of extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.
He called Obama a “son of a bitch” and told him to “go to hell,” prompting the White House to cancel planned bilateral talks between the two leaders.
Mr. Duterte said Trump, in a phone conversation last month, had endorsed his brutal antidrug campaign and said he was doing it “the right way.”
Gunther, who is scheduled to attend Trump’s inauguration in Washington, said she also believed Trump would strongly support the Philippines’ claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Deluna agreed, saying Trump would “play hard ball” with China.
The biggest concern for many Fil-Am community leaders is the uncertain fate of the nearly 1 million undocumented Filipinos in the United States.
“For sure, life will be harder for them in the coming years,” Historic Filipinotown community leader Dondino Manzon said.
Immigration lawyer and advocate Arnedo Valera said that could be true if Trump planned to act on his campaign rhetoric on immigration.
In that scenario, he would expect the Trump administration to tighten immigration rules for countries with terrorist presence, including the Philippines, which has been fighting the Abu Sayyaf.
“We can expect disruptions and strict regulations on immigrant visas allocated for the Philippines, whether they are family-based or employment-sponsored visas,” said Valera, executive director of the Migrant Heritage Commission in Washington.
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