Fil-Ams weigh in on sanctuary cities that provide a safe haven for undocumented immigrants

THE TRUMP administration has intensified its crackdown on sanctuary cities —  jurisdictions that provide a safe haven for undocumented immigrants by limiting how local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration agents.
There are about 300 sanctuary cities in the United States, some of which have already filed lawsuits against the Trump administration after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that aims at blocking federal funding to “sanctuary cities.”
Filipinos weigh in this contentious issue and here are some of the perspectives shared with this author:
“Filipinos in San Francisco are thankful to Mayor Ed Lee who continues to protect the rights of over 36,000 Fil-Ams in the city.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee through City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump challenging the constitutionality of an executive order threatening sanctuary cities with enforcement actions and a loss of federal funding.
“San Francisco as a sanctuary city is about making people who live here feel safe to be an active participant in the fabric of San Francisco’s community. It’s about being able to go to school and pursue higher education and learning opportunities. It’s about being able to work and provide for our children and families. It’s about being able to access city services available to all residents — financial, housing, education, healthcare, transportation. It’s about being able to live your fullest life without fear. It’s about treating all residents equally and with dignity.
“This is what democracy is about. Many Filipinos have not experienced this type of living. I have found Filipinos who live in San Francisco to be kinder and helpful to each other. Sharing their blessings with those who have less especially with family in our home country.
Is it good for Filipinos living in the City of San Francisco? You bet it is.” – Marily Mondejar,  CEO, Filipina Women’s Network Chair and President, Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, Successor Agency to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency
“As a humanitarian, and as an advocate for all the good of people locally and globally, the president’s aim in bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadow have several impacts, good and bad as well. I am totally in favor of the president’s concern, particularly, he is on his plate not only to target illegal immigrants, but at the same token, to make changes in immigration law, rules and regulations which may benefit [naturalized] citizens of this nation of milk and honey. For Filipinos who are naturalized and who are legally here are in good standing because they came over as legal, had undergone the long legal process of coming over using all their resources, time, money, and everything in order to migrate here with proper documentations. For those people who are here illegally shouldn’t be here – they exhaust all the resources, jobs, benefits that must only belong to those who are here legally and should belong to the legal immigrants who sacrificed every inch of their efforts , went through all legal process-they waited long and hard and opted to spend considerable amount of energy, time, money in following the immigration rule and law. For Filipinos who have been naturalized are mostly hurt because of some reasons I mentioned above. I totally understand where President Trump is coming from – he wanted to see our country to be in a better place, and to make it “Great Again.” Additionally, he also wanted to see our country’s laws on immigration be studied further, be revised or amended to the fullest for the benefit of all the citizens. These changes may as well benefit the citizens and those Filipinos who have naturalized, as well- will have better services, better resources, better job opportunities, in contrary to those illegal immigrants and undocumented who unfortunately did not have undertaken long, legal process of coming to America, who simply maybe used a [small] time, efforts and energy and as soon as they are here, they grab some of those benefits, resources, jobs, and everything that should belong to the legal immigrants who have, as I mentioned worked hard enough, going through proper documentations etc. If President Trump shall withhold federal fundings to those cities, simply tough luck and sorry — therefore, I am all for President Trump’s [policy] re: Sanctuary Cities.” – Charito C. Benipayo, Community Leader, Journalist, Educator
“Sanctuary cities are good for the Filipino Americans as it will keep communities safe. Local police or officials should not participate in a ‘deportation force’ that undermines community trust. The enforcement of immigration law is within the power and authority of the federal officials or ICE agents and should not be passed on to the local governments. If local police will be given the task of enforcing immigration law and detaining immigrants in unlawful status, public safety will be at risk, as immigrants who may be victims or witnesses to crimes, are less likely to cooperate with local authorities.” – Atty. Lou Tancinco, Community Leader, Immigration Lawyer, Tancinco Law Office
“There should be a difference between a criminal and a law abiding citizen, legal or illegal. Bad for any citizen Filipino or non Filipino. Sanctuary cities prevent the referral of a convicted illegal to immigration authorities for deportation. This endanger[s] the lives of immigration officers to have to find and re-arrest the illegal criminal in a more hostile environment.” – J. Angelo Barrios, Engineer. Studio City, CA
“The entirety of the continent served as a sanctuary for the Pilgrims, their descendants and various Europeans fleeing political, religious and/or economic persecution.  Sanctuaries are totally an American tradition.  The idea of sanctuary has become controversial only because it’s for black/brown people nowadays.  Is it good for Filipinos in the US?  Of course.  It protects them from the rabid actuations of ICE, which arrests even victims of domestic violence testifying in courts and arrests DACA recipients.”– Ninotchka Rosca, Journalist, Author 
“At any angle [it’s] really bad because the U.S. has their own laws on immigration just like us and we are living in a civilized world that honors and respect the rules of law. It is best for undocumented immigrants to do what they are ought to do – to follow all procedures in immigrating…and that would be fair enough for both parties – both legal and binding without any fear of prosecution.”– Ernesto Calabig
“Sanctuary City is good for the Filipino-American community in the U.S. First, if there is no policy like this, many undocumented Filipinos could have [been exported] back to the Philippines. As an immigrant rights activist for 20 years, we have fought for this policy. In LA, since the 1950s, the city had clearly stood for the immigrants that it banned the LAPD to arrest immigrant. It forbade them to question people on their immigrant status[es]. And LA stood for this policy the same as San Francisco and other cities.
“Other Filipinos who have adopted the American mainstream attitude are against this for they have anti-immigrant bias. The same racism that they breed while in the Philippines. Which is basically anti-poor. And we can see this is this attitude towards EJK in the Philippines. They do not [care even] if 12,000 are killed without legal process as long as they are not affected. In the U.S., as long as they are American citizens, they don’t don’t care for immigrants [and they dolt the anti-immigrant reasoning especially] the pro-GOP ones.
“They conveniently forget that there are 1.5 million Filipinos who overstayed or have no legal papers. Even the government [would] not admit that there is [a] very large population of TNTs in the U.S. The Philippine officials minimize it or just turn a blind eye on it. PRRD is guilty of such patronizing attitude towards Trump and even elucidated that they won’t help the TNT because they are violating the U.S. laws on immigration.
“Actually, if the Fil-Ams are the 2nd largest API community in the U.S. and the largest in California. We also have the 2nd largest immigrant or undocumented community in the U.S. after the Latinos and Central Americans.  Our officials are in denial.
Thus the Sanctuary City is very favorable for us immigrants and immigrant rights advocates. [Trump] is wrong in defunding and violating this basic democratic and immigrant rights of 11 million people who are law abiding and who are paying their taxes. They are not a threat to ‘national security’ and are here due to the flaws in our immigration law.
“Instead of anti-immigrant laws and anti-sanctuary laws, the Trump administration chooses to destroy the Obama laws that favor immigrants. The GOP-controlled Congress [should] pass genuine immigration laws and now anti-immigrant laws that are counterproductive.
“Trumps anti-sanctuary laws are anti-people. anti democratic and will only spawn hatred, conflict and instability among the cities of the US.”– Art Garcia, Community Leader
“If they are not suppose[d] to be here they need to leave.  By being here undocumented is a crime….they broke the law and therefore they are considered criminals…that’s the law…..we need to respect the laws of the land.” – Pila Concon
“The United States of America has been at its best and most impressive when it has bravely accepted the responsibility and challenge of a history and legacy of refugees and immigrants. It should be noted that Steve Jobs was the child of Syrian refugees, Olympic skater Michelle Kwan is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, UN ambassador Nikki Haley is the daughter of Indian parents, Colin Powell is the child of Jamaican immigrants, and Singer Bruno Mars is the child of a mother from Manila and Cebu. It should be noted that all of these groups, including those of the Filipinos, were often the target of laws aimed at banning and discriminating.
“It should also be noted that the country has been at its most cruel, frightening and horrific when it was at its most xenophobic. This includes Chinese Exclusion Acts, the Jim Crow laws (which were imposed against Filipinos as well), the Ku Klux Klan, the Japanese-American internment [during] World War II, the Zoot Suit Riots, Operation Wetback, the Minuteman Militia movement, and the most frightening aspects of the current Tea Party movement. In these cases, we must remember that all it took was a few people to reveal the injustice of such actions.” -Jose Ricardo G. Bondoc, Chief Editor of
“The concept of sanctuary that dates back to a British common law principal giving communities and churches the basic right to provide a safe haven for persons sought by courts exists in jurisprudence.
“It is a tradition, however, and, in reality? Not defendable in law. Think of it as ‘people power’ or a sit in or blockade style protest. In U.S. federal law, while most law enforcement agencies accept it. If ordered by a court, it will be enforced.
“The U.S. laws on immigration are clear, states may regulate affairs of citizens and residents. But the status of these people [is] subject to the federal mandates which cover all matters involving immigration in the USA.”
“Yes, no one wants to see federal agents faced off versus police or local and state officials.
“But if so ordered, the law of land at large will prevail.
In the 1960s states sought to keep schools segregated in the southern us states. Refusing to allow African American students into some schools even with federal court orders issued.
In the end, the U.S. army was deployed to see those laws were enforced.
“The same stands for these laws on immigration and the tradition of sanctuary. If federal courts and the Supreme Court decides this matter and it favors the federal government? No local law may stand versus that, to do such actions would be tantamount to rebellion or insurrection or subversion.
“Martial law could be declared and the laws enforced. That has happened in the nation’s past.
“In the end, it will be up to the courts and ultimately the Supreme Court of the USA.
“Should cities or states chose to still stand and fight for sanctuary protection of residents deemed alien and unlawfully present as defined by law? Then it is within the authority of the President to declare that city or state in rebellion.
“Resistance? If the SCOTUS rules in favor of the federal government? Is indeed futile.” – Mike Cohen, Journalist

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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to,

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to and

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