Duterte Won’t Help Undocumented Filipinos in US Facing Deportation
PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte announced that his administration will not help undocumented Filipinos “out of respect” for U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies.
At a news briefing at Malacañang on Monday, January 30, Duterte demonstrated support for Trump’s widely criticized executive order which calls for a temporary U.S. travel ban for refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations.
“To Filipinos there (in the U.S.), 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,” Duterte affirmed. “You know it is a violation of the law.”
There are more than 310,000 undocumented Filipinos in the United States on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of individuals who are up for deportation. It is unclear whether they are criminal offenders.
Various Fil-Am groups criticized Duterte for his decision to stay away from the issue, which they say is liable to displace families across the nation.
“It’s a shame that Duterte would not ‘lift a finger’ to help Filipino migrants who are in need,” Joanna Concepcion, executive director of the Filipino Migrant Center, told Inquirer. “What will Duterte do for the families who are depending on (the undocumented Filipinos’) remittances?”
Some organizations have suspicions about Duterte’s high regard for the Trump administration, like Chair of Bayan USA Bernadette Ellorin, who echoed Concepcion’s argument concerning Filipinos in the U.S. providing for their families in the motherland.
“What is there to respect about abuse of executive power of the rich over undocumented workers in the US?” Ellorin told Inquirer, adding that so many undocumented Filipinos are “living in the shadows and in fear of a repressive Trump administration that has called Filipinos ‘animals’ and from a ‘terrorist’ nation.”
Pattern of respect
Previously, Duterte and Trump expressed respect for one another as world leaders when Trump was elected on November 8.
According to Duterte, the new U.S. president expressed support and respect for Duterte’s violent crackdown on illegal drugs during a phone call on December 3, 2016. Trump even intimated that he thinks that the Duterte administration is handling the situation “the right way.”
“You know, Trump said, ‘I will not interfere in the affairs of other countries.’ Now, if he has policies to protect his country, I’ll understand because when he said we will not interfere in [your] anti-drug war, you’re doing it right. As a matter of fact, my country is also facing the same serious problem,” Duterte said at a press conference on the evening of Sunday, January 29.
“So out of respect, I can only answer him in the manner that he as told me. I will not interfere.”
As the Asian Journal previously reported, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar affirmed the administration’s decision to respect U.S. policies and promised not to intervene, even if it does mean turning away Filipinos facing deportation.
“I can tell you right now that that our president cares for any Filipino, not only in the Philippines, but around the world he cares for them,” Andanar said at a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday, January 23.
Andanar added: “If you’re asking me what our policy is right now, we have to respect the new administration [because] they are still in transition. We have to wait and see which policies they will push forward, which policies they announced during the campaign…we respect the political and democratic process here in the U.S. and as I mentioned, non-interference.” (www.asianjournal.com)