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Many will need help when deportations begin

It is still two months before new American President Donald Trump assumes office in Washington, DC, but we are beginning to feel the initial effects of his coming presidency. Last Tuesday, Secretary Silvestre Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment announced that the government is ready to provide assistance to about 271,000 Filipinos facing deportation when the new administration takes over on January 20, 2017.

Trump won on a number of issues, including immigration. He said millions of illegal immigrants, many from Latin America, were taking jobs that should go to Americans. He also saw immigrants from certain countries which he described as “terrorist states” as a threat to national security. Thus he would ban the entry of Muslims, such as the ones now leaving the Middle East in the millions.

Unfortunately for us, in his campaign speeches, Trump lumped the Philippines with Iran, Syria, and other Middle East nations as terrorist states. He probably had in mind the fighting and kidnapping and beheading in Mindanao linked to the Abu Sayyaf, a Moro outlaw group. Once he is president, Trump declared during the campaign, he would allow no more immigrants from these states.

In a television interview last Sunday, Trump said he is prepared to deport two to three million illegal immigrants with criminal records. The 271,000 Filipinos cited by Secretary Bello as assured of Philippine government assistance are the ones with criminal records; they may have been caught by US immigration officers illegally crossing the border from Mexico or they may get involved in illegal activities in their localities.

It is believed that there are many more Filipinos without any criminal records – without any records at all. These are the so-called TNTs – “tago ng tago” – who have simply eluded detection by immigration authorities and are now working at illicit jobs in the vast concrete jungles and in the rural hinterlands of North America. We might add that they are also found in many other countries.

The great majority of Filipinos in America are legal Immigrants. They are not affected by Trump’s deportation plan.

The 271,000 with criminal records are assured of government assistance as soon as they arrive. The TNTs will be needing help when the time comes.