MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is urging undocumented Filipinos in the United States to come home before US president-elect Donald Trump makes good on his promise to deport millions of illegal immigrants.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella made the call at a news briefing on Wednesday, November 16, echoing the position taken by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
"The labor chief urged undocumented OFWs in the United States to return to the country amid the threat of massive deportation of illegal immigrants once US president-elect Donald Trump assumes office in January," Abella said.
Of the 3.5 million Filipinos living in the US as of December 2013, 7,6% or 271,000 are classified as irregular or undocumented, according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
Abella assured returning Filipinos that the Duterte government would be ready to help them make a decent living in the Philippines.
"Should the undocumented OFWs decide to come home, Bello noted that the government is ready to provide them assistance," he said.
He said Duterte's "end program," after all, is to "bring back our OFWs."
"We already established a mechanism for business and employment opportunities," said Abella.
Since a majority of Filipinos in the US are living there legally, the Department of Foreign Affairs does not expect Trump's win to have a "calamitous impact" on Filipino migrants.
Trump's shock electoral victory comes after a presidential campaign big on anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The incoming US president has called immigrants, including those from the Philippines, "animals," claiming they are to blame for acts of terrorism on foreign soil.
Days after his win, Trump promised to immediately deport 3 million immigrants with criminal records.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.