‘Immigration, China:’ How Trump’s state of the union address might affect the Philippines


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US President Donald Trump on January 30 (Wednesday Manila time) delivered his state of the union address to over 40 million Americans and millions more worldwide. As the leader of one of the world’s most powerful nation, his speech echoed as far as Asia to bring a message of a “more unified US.” Let’s try to look at how Trump’s message might affect the Philippines and even the millions of Filipinos living in their soil.

US President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address
US President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address | Photo Courtesy: Twitter/VP Mike Pence

Immigration

One of the most controversial reforms Trump is trying to pass is the RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act. Under the bill, they would half the number of green cards issued in a way to reduce the number of legal immigration to the US.

During Trump’s state of the union address, he made his intentions clear, “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”

Atty. Lou Tancinco, a Filipina who heads a U.S. immigration law office explained that the bill threatens up to 400,000 Filipino family members waiting to be petitioned to live in the US.

"Almost 400,000 family members of Filipino descent waiting to be reunited with their US citizen petitioners will lose out on their opportunity to immigrate to the US,” she said.

“Since the executive actions of Trump were released in January and February of this year (2017), the immigrants who are without legal status became more vulnerable, even those who do not have criminal cases," Atty. Tancino continued.

As of 2015, the US Census Bureau recorded up to 3,898,739 Filipinos staying in the country. An estimate of about 310,000 Filipinos have been recorded to have entered the US illegally.

Ties with China and Russia

Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping
Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping | Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ Presidential Communications

Trump addressed China and Russia as “rivals that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense.”

He urged the Congress to “end the dangerous defence sequester and fully fund our great military.”

This is significant as President Duterte had been supportive of the country being less dependent on the United States. Instead, he is favoring foreign policies that prioritize closer relations with China and Russia.

Trump boasts of a “good relationship” with Duterte
Trump boasts of a “good relationship” with Duterte | Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ Presidential Communications

Economic experts were once worried that a ‘severed’ tie with the US would make the Philippines lose about $1.3 billion in foreign direct investments and more than $150 million in development aid.

However, the recent ASEAN Summit held in the country proved that the two leaders are not trying to make the relations ‘sour.’ Trump even boasted that he has a “great relationship” with Duterte.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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