‘Duterte can’t help illegal Pinoys in US’
LOS ANGELES—The nearly one million undocumented Filipinos in the United States, who face an uncertain fate under President Donald Trump, will not get any help from President Duterte as his administration must respect Trump’s immigration policy.
“It is our policy not to interfere with the policies of other countries like the United States of America,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told a press conference at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles on Monday night (Tuesday in Manila).
Andanar said Mr. Duterte “cares for any Filipino, not only in the Philippines but around the world,” but his government has to “respect the (Trump) administration” and uphold its policy of noninterference.
Many Filipino-American advocacy groups are worried that Trump will implement tough immigration policies that may lead to harsh and abusive treatment of undocumented immigrants.
The groups, including the Filipino Migrant Center, the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) and the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), have launched legal assistance programs for undocumented Filipinos and an awareness campaign on how to protect their rights.
PWC Associate Director Lolita Andrada Lledo said the Duterte government should provide support for undocumented Filipinos who send money back home and whose remittances greatly help the Philippine economy.
“They’re Filipino citizens, and just like overseas Filipino workers around the world, they’re our heroes, ang bagong bayani (modern-day heroes),” she said. “Why not help them?”
“This is the best time for (Mr. Duterte) to show he cares for undocumented Filipino workers who feel threatened under Trump,” she added. “They need to feel that they are not alone.”
Lledo said if the Mexican government was able to help protect the rights and welfare of their people, so can the Philippine government.
“The Mexican government, for example, had pushed for the issuance of consular ID cards that gave undocumented Mexicans a sense of security,” she said.
Immigration lawyer and MHC Executive Director Arnedo Valera agreed with Lledo and said Andanar was “misinformed.”
“Noninterference stems from respect of another country’s sovereignty, and does not preclude diplomatic negotiations and international agreements and bargaining between sovereign countries like the United States and the Philippines,” said Valera, who is also an international law expert.
Valera said, for example, Mexican President Pena Nieto and Trump recently had an “open and constructive” dialog about the more than four million undocumented Mexicans in the United States.
Similarly, President Duterte can meet with Trump to discuss immigration issues./ac
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