THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) urged undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to return to the Philippines before President-elect Donald Trump assumes office in January next year.
Addressing the illegal immigrants in the United States, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that it would be better if they come back to the Philippines or start processing the legalization of their stay abroad.
Trump, who won the recent U.S. presidential elections, said that among his administration’s priorities include the deportation or imprisonment of about three million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Assuming Trump would keep his campaign promise, Bello, however, noted that the U.S. president-elect’s immigration policy would only have “minimal effect” since most OFWs there are legally employed.
“Most of our OFWs there are documented and are legal, especially our seafarers,” Bello said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also made a similar statement with DOLE. The DFA previously expressed that Trump’s immigration pronouncements do not have a “calamitous impact” on the Filipino community in the United States.
According to the DFA, there were about 3.18 million Filipinos in the U.S. as of December 2015.
Latest records from Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) shows that only about 271,000 Filipinos were irregulars or undocumented as of December 2013.
“A vast majority of the three million Filipinos residing in the US have legal residency or citizenship status, pay their taxes and generally obey American laws.” DFA Spokesman Charles Jose said.
On the other hand, if the undocumented Filipinos decided to come home, Bello said the Philippine government is ready to provide them with livelihood and employment assistance.
“The end program of our president (Rodrigo Duterte) is to bring back our OFWs so we already established a mechanism for businesses and employment opportunities,” Bello added.