About 314,000 Filipinos on green card waiting list could be affected
PRESIDENT Donald Trump this week unveiled a sweeping plan that will dramatically reform and tighten the country’s immigration system for those seeking to relocate to the United States.
In a speech delivered at the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday, May 14, Trump unveiled his plan, which did not address plans for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States currently.
Rather, it would tighten up the process for those seeking green cards, asylum claims and other immigration modes for newcomers.
Trump outlined a system that is “merit-based” and limits those who can come to the U.S. by setting clear parameters for admission, mentioning that the current system is based on “random chance.”
“We want immigrants coming in [and] we cherish an open door, but a big proportion of those immigrants should come in through merit and skill,” the president said in his speech, which was softer in tone compared to the coarse rhetoric he’s used in the past when discussing immigrants.
That means that family reunification — wherein individuals petition family members for naturalization — would be cut to only children and spouses.
Other elements of the proposal include doubling down on the border wall construction, regulating the flow of lower-wage workers as a way to protect Americans’ incomes and limit the asylum system. Some of those qualified immigrants who would be fit within the merit-based system include laborers for important American industries,
The proposal does not address any pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — some of which identify as DREAMers.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders addressed this omission from the plan by saying that DACA is “a serious program” and that “every single time that we have put forward or anyone else has put forward any type of immigration plan [that] included DACA, it’s failed. It’s a divisive thing.”
But DACA and providing support for DACA recipients has had bipartisan support in Washington and among the general public. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 83 percent of American support granting citizenship to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The pieces that are likely to deter Democrats from agreeing to this proposal are the insistence of Trump’s border wall and the limitations on family-based visas, which is one of the most utilized modes to reuniting AAPI families since the 1980s.
According to the State Department, per this proposal, about 4 million people would get kicked off the green card waiting list, which, as many immigrants know too well, could take decades. About 1.4 million of those individuals would be immigrants of Asian descent, of which Filipinos comprise of about 314,000.
In a statement provided to the Asian Journal, AAPI Director of the Democratic National Committee John Santos wrote that the plan “is an attack on immigrants and is not based on fact.”
“Our immigration system is broken, but Trump’s plan doesn’t address the most pressing immigration issues AAPIs face,” Santos said. “His ‘fix’ to the system includes drastically reducing the family-based visas that 57% of AAPI immigrants used to come to the U.S. and making it harder for asylum seekers to flee persecution, in favor of a system that privileges wealthier green card seekers. His plan does not address the status of the 120,000 AAPIs eligible for DACA nor does it address the backlog in family-sponsored visa applications that have caused some immigrants to be stuck in limbo for decades. We need to fix our immigration system, but Trump’s plan falls far short.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)