President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law last week the senate bill that grants full government tuition subsidy in Philippine state universities and colleges. In the United States, President Donald Trump endorsed an immigration bill that proposes to slash legal immigration by half.
This immigration bill if it becomes law will limit the number visas based on family-petitions and will favor immigrants who are English speakers and have advanced degrees.
How will this affect Filipinos who want to immigrate or plan to come to the U.S.?
First let’s talk about some history here. If we look at Filipino migration in America, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 can be considered as the booster responsible for the “great leap” as it terminated organized Filipino labor importation that was prevalent during the American occupation of the Philippines.
The Act also put a stop on the restrictive national origins system which was originally passed in 1924. In the year 1934, a quota and preference system was also established for Filipinos when the Philippines became an American commonwealth after the Tydings-McDuffie Act was approved by the U.S. Congress.
It was the 1965 immigration act that allowed for a new and different wave of Filipino immigrants to come to the U.S. There was an influx of immigrants who had college and professional-level education which also saw the increase in family-based immigrant petitions (family-reunification petitions) later on.
The “manong generation” of immigrants was replaced by the arrival of more Filipino college graduates and professionals with their families unlike the manongs who entered the U.S. and immigrated as young bachelors many years earlier to work in farms and in canneries.
Now that President Duterte has signed the free-tuition bill into law, would there be more college graduates entering the labor force not only in the Philippines but also overseas (including the United States)? Will President Trump’s endorsed immigration legislation be good for Filipinos?
The proposed immigration legislation does not really address the broken immigration system of the country--- more so the economic challenges that the U.S. is facing. The bill appears to cater to the demand of Trump supporters who believe that immigrants take away jobs and are responsible for keeping wages low in the U.S.
President Trump and his supporters are not really thinking of Filipino college graduates entering the labor market as there will be a “point-system” in the proposed immigration bill’s employment-based visas. It is practical to note that employment-based visas are often filled easily and gone or taken fast. Plus, how much workers can the U.S. labor market take? A lot of American jobs have already been outsourced.
What is disappointing not only for Filipinos but for other immigrant communities as well is the proposal to slash the number of legal immigrants to be admitted under the family reunification process. This proposal is contrary to the intention and the spirit of the 1965 Act which enhanced a dual-chain system of immigration--- a family reunification (or “relative-selective”) and an employment-based (or “occupational migration”) component.
Going back to the free tuition law that President Duterte signed, I wonder what will be the law’s impact on state universities and colleges. Is it really important to produce more college graduates compared to the need to channel more resources to improve the quality of higher education in many state-run universities and colleges (and the quality of elementary and high school education in public schools for that matter)?
President Duterte’s economic managers have already voiced their concern and opposition to the law and many say that this law does not really help the poor gain access to college education.
As for President Trump and the proposed legislation on immigration that he supports, it appears to be another attempt to energize his supporters.
Both the signed bill in the Philippines and the proposed immigration legislation in the U.S. have faulty premises but as we often see in politics and government action, many laws that are passed appear to be good on the surface but a closer examination reveal otherwise.
Until next week!
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.