Fil-Am groups slam Duterte for not helping undocumented Filipinos
LOS ANGELES—Filipino-American groups on Monday criticized President Duterte for saying he will not help the nearly 1 million undocumented Filipinos in the United States out of respect for President Donald Trump.
“It’s a shame that (Mr.) Duterte would not ‘lift a finger’ to help Filipino migrants who are in need,” said Filipino Migrant Center executive director Joanna Concepcion.
Fate of undocumented
Concepcion said many of the undocumented Filipinos who would be affected by Trump’s harsh immigration policies were sending money to their families back home.
“What will Duterte do for the families who are depending on (the undocumented Filipinos’) remittances?” she asked.
“As long as there aren’t jobs in the Philippines, the economy will continue to depend on the income generated by overseas Filipino workers.”
Concepcion said many undocumented Filipinos were “severely exploited” and must be protected “instead of neglected” by the Philippine government.
Bernadette Ellorin, chair of Bayan USA, questioned Mr. Duterte’s “respect for the Trump administration.”
“What is there to respect about abuse of executive power of the rich over undocumented workers in the US?” Ellorin asked.
“President Duterte must keep in mind that one out of every four Filipinos in the US is undocumented. That’s approximately 1 million TNTs (undocumented Filipinos) living in the shadows and in fear of a repressive Trump administration that has called Filipinos ‘animals’ and from a ‘terrorist’ nation,” Ellorin said.
He said “worsening poverty” and lack of jobs have forced Filipinos to go abroad “to put food on their families’ tables back home.”
Pilipino Workers Center associate director Lolita Lledo said it was the Duterte administration’s responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of its citizens abroad, regardless of their immigration status in the countries where they worked.
Lledo said Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto immediately ordered agencies to step up protection for undocumented Mexicans in the United States hours after Trump signed executive orders to curb illegal immigration.
Nieto said in a brief address to his nation: “Where there is a Mexican migrant at risk that requires our support, your country should be there.”
He also urged legislators and civic organizations in the United States to help Mexican immigrants.
In stark contrast to the Mexican president’s initiatives, Duterte said on Monday that undocumented Filipinos facing deportation could not expect help from his administration “out of respect” for Trump.
“To Filipinos there (in the United States), you better be on the right track. If you are not allowed to stay there where you are staying, get out because if you are caught and deported, I will not lift a finger. You know that it is a violation of the law,” the President told a news briefing in Malacañang.
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