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Filipinos should be welcomed to U.S. – State Department

WASHINGTON DC, USA – The US State Department quelled fears that US President Donald Trump's recent immigration and travel ban will affect Filipinos visiting America, one of the top destinations of Filipinos abroad.

"The Philippines was not among those countries that were labeled of concern, so I would say that Filipinos, both in the United States and the Philippines themselves, should by all means be welcomed into the United States," said Mark Toner, acting spokesman of the US State Department, in a meeting with Filipino journalists on Wednesday, February 1.

"I would recommend that Filipinos who wish to travel to the United States obviously should consult with the embassy in Manila," he also said.

Toner was responding to a question about whether Filipinos should be worried that they will be sent home following Trump's immigration and travel ban.

Trump's hardline executive order, signed Friday, January 27, US time, suspends the arrival of refugees for at least 120 days, and for the next 3 months, bars visas for travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. (READ: Trump's ban: It's not about national security)

Toner explained that Trump's decision factors in the "national security interest" of the US. 

Referring to Trump, Toner added, "He has said very clearly that his first priority is to protect American lives, American citizens, and so he wants to conduct a review on some of the processes by which people are traveling to the United States." 

Filipinos in the US have been divided on Trump's immigration ban. (WATCH: VLOG: Mga Pilipino sa US, hati sa travel ban ni Trump) – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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