Palace hopes Biden will help Pinoy immigrants
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) – November 10, 2020 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — While it does not see major changes in the ties between Manila and Washington, Malacañang is hopeful that the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden will help Filipino illegal immigrants legalize their stay in the United States.
There were about 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2017, according to think tank Pew Research Center. Recent reports have estimated the number of Filipinos illegally staying in the US at 300,000.
“When it comes to immigration, we hope there will be a policy shift under a Democratic administration because many Filipinos are living in the United States. Although some of them are TNTs (‘tago nang tago’ or always in hiding) or illegals, they have played a huge role in the United States and we hope they will be given an opportunity to (legalize their stay),” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.
“I hope they will help Filipinos who are now living in the United States but who have no papers because that is a major policy difference between Republican and Democratic administrations. Otherwise, we expect everything to be stable, no major change,” he added.
The administration of Republican US President Donald Trump has intensified the crackdown against illegal immigration, saying it is taking away jobs from Americans. President Duterte had said he won’t lift a finger to help illegal Filipino immigrants if they are caught because they are violating the law.
Roque said the policies on the South China Sea and defense would continue despite the change in leadership in the US, a traditional ally of the Philippines.
“I think America is also consistent with their foreign policy so there will be no major changes,” the Palace spokesman said.
Asked whether Duterte sees any reason to reconsider his decision to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, Roque replied: “I do not have any basis yet to answer that because the declaration of the President is there would be six months postponement of the abrogation of the VFA, to be extendable by another six months.”
“So as it stands, that remains the declaration of our President,” he added.
Last January, Duterte said he was scrapping the VFA because of the cancellation of the US visa of his ally and former police chief Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Palace officials, however, claimed there were other reasons for the abrogation of the agreement including the US Senate resolution condemning the alleged human rights violations under Duterte.
Last June, the administration suspended the termination of the VFA because of “political and other developments in the region.”
Roque said Duterte has also not issued a declaration on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which provides US troops access to Philippine military facilities. – Helen Flores, Pia Lee-Bago