THE Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday it will assist an estimated 10,000 Filipinos who might be deported as a result of Washington’s decision to rescind a program that allowed undocumented immigrant children to stay legally in the United States.
“We will authorize with certain limitations the use of the Assistance to Nationals Fund and the Legal Assistance Fund to assist immigration-related cases such as those arising from the decision of President Trump to revoke the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals or DACA,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
Cayetano issued the statement shortly after President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday he is revoking the DACA program and gave the US Congress up to March 5, 2018 to come up with a law that would prevent the deportation of as many as 800,000 people covered by the program.
At the same time, Cayetano called on members of the Filipino community in the US, particularly those affected by the change in policy, to remain hopeful and actively support efforts for the passage of legislation that would benefit those enrolled in DACA.
“While we hope for the best in the form of a legislative solution, those affected should likewise prepare for the worse,” Cayetano said, adding that other possible legal options for the affected Filipinos should also be explored.
“In any event, we are ready to welcome and assist our kababayans in whatever way we can if they returned to the Philippines,” he said.
Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said the DACA program was covered by an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in 2012 that was envisioned to protect undocumented immigrant children from deportation.
“The DACA program provides temporary legal status that allows qualified undocumented immigrant children from the Philippines and other countries to stay, study and work in the US,” Chuasoto said.
He pointed out that while the program does not lead to US citizenship, it is renewable every two years.
Chuasoto said that of the 3.4-million Filipinos in the US, about 310,000 are undocumented.