FEBRUARY 2018



By Jon D. Melegrito

jdmelegrito@gmail.com

Letter from Washington

 

..."What's in store for 2018?"

...continued from index page

These quotas, for instance, limit migrants from Asia and Latin America. As a result, an American citizen trying to sponsor a brother or sister from the Philippines must wait up to more than 20 years for a visa. That’s because there’s an annual cap to the number of visas issued in certain family-based categories.

Conservatives, on the other hand, fear that allowing more people of color into the United States would forever transform America’s ethnic and racial composition. They want to scrap the “family reunification” model altogether and replace it with a merit-based system.

Although family reunification has enjoyed broad support since the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in 1965, it is increasingly being cast in a negative light by the Trump administration as the “enabler of chain migration.” As defined by the White House, chain migration is the process by which foreign nationals permanently resettle within the U.S. and subsequently bring over their foreign relatives, who then bring over more foreign relatives until entire extended families are resettled in the country.

The cynical assumption is that these family members don’t contribute in a meaningful way. Rather, they become “welfare cheats” and a tax burden to communities. That’s why these nativists want to kick browns out of town.

Futile

According to the Migration Policy Institute, however, there has always been a “bipartisan view that immigration was good for society and the economy and integral to the history of the United States.” Most Americans believe that immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.

The Trump administration, stacked with advisers espousing “Make America White Again” policies, has radically changed the debate.

Filipino Americans should weigh in and participate in a vital conversation about a policy that not only affects them directly (“do people who look like us matter in this country?”) but deals with the country’s transformation into a more diverse society, where immigrants from all parts of the world bring their brains and brawn, their gifts and grit. It’s immigrants, after all, that make America great.

Welcome, Ambassador Romualdez. Newly-appointed Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, who assumed his post last December, comes to Washington during one of the lowest points of Philippine-US relations.

To that end, Romualdez has vowed to “interact and renew our relationship with several US senators and congressmen.” He added that what Duterte wants him to do is “to be friends with everybody and enemies to no one.”

Well known for his communication skills, which makes him a fine diplomat, Romualdez is in a good position to take on a deeply emotional issue for the Philippines: the return of the Balangiga Bells.

It will be recalled that during the American war in the Philippines in 1901, a U.S. Army unit brought two of the 600-pound bells captured from the church in Balangiga to an Air Force Base in Wyoming. Because they were considered “war trophies,” efforts to have them returned have been futile. The law prohibiting return of any spoils of war, however, is expiring in September. Unless it is renewed, authority to return them will revert to the Executive branch. With Duterte and Trump getting along well, it makes it a lot easier.

Romualdez is confident those bells, which actually belong to the parish of Balangiga, will find their way home soon. You may rest assured, Mr. Ambassador, that the Filipino American community will fully back you as you bat for the bells.


 

 

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