Trump's ban: It's not about national security

Race, class, and ethnicity are not supposed to matter in assessing one’s qualifications to migrate to the United States, but everyone knows that at the top of the preferred migrants or visitors are those from the Anglosphere, and that if you are non-white and not from the elite, you are way down the list of possible entrants, unless you have a skill assessed as valuable to the US economic machine. 

And Trump wants to take away even that channel with his plan to eliminate the H1B visa that allows people with specialty occupations to work in the US.  Already highly discretionary in practice, immigration procedures will become even more discretionary under Trump.

How about the Philippines?

The Philippines is not on the list of seven countries. Yet. We must remember that during his presidential campaign, Trump identified the Philippines as a haven for terrorists and among the priority countries that he would put on a blacklist. 

But even without the Philippines being on that list, you can bet that anybody with a Muslim name applying to enter the US will find it much harder to enter the America than one with a Christian name. With Trump’s overt anti-Muslim stance fortifying the anti-Muslim prejudices of many in the US immigration bureaucracy, it is likely that if you are a young Muslim male from Mindanao, you would be pigeonholed by your interviewer as a potential security threat unless you can prove otherwise.

And, as some have found, even if you do get a visa, you are not guaranteed entry: you can be put into what is called secondary screening and depending on the subjective judgment of your interviewer, you may be refused entry at the airport.

There are thousands of Filipino Muslims who live in the US and they and their relatives go back and forth between the two countries. Their right to travel faces severe curtailment if the new immigration regime goes forward.

This is why instead of saying the Philippine government will respect Trump’s recent order, Malacañang should speak out publicly against it, in order to blunt the momentum of an exclusionary regime that will eventually affect its citizens. Filipino Muslims deserve no less from their government. –

(Walden Bello was chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Overseas Workers from 2010 to 2015. He is currently a senior research fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Kyoto UniversityHe has been put into secondary screening by US immigration officials at most times that he has entered the United States owing to his record of arrests in the US while opposing the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.)