The United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) announced this week that it has imposed a one-year ban on Filipino workers looking for jobs in the US under two federal programs.
These are the H-2A and H2-B visas for foreign agricultural workers and non-agricultural workers, respectively.
The ban took effect on Jan. 19, this year and expires on Jan. 18, next year. A review of the ban can be expected immediately after expiry to determine if it was effective in curbing so many cases of overstaying and, to a lesser degree, more serious cases of human trafficking.
Much as it pains us, we have to throw our full support for the ban. It is no secret that countless Filipinos head for the US under false pretext. They apply for tourist visas with the intent of overstaying in hopes of landing a job in the US. If they do find jobs, only then will they move to legalize their stay by applying for a change of status.
For these unfortunate kababayans of ours, the US is still seen as the land of milk and honey, where easy fortunes are to be made with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work. In their minds, they can never hope to have decent lifestyles back home using the same formula.
According to the USDHS, “The Philippines has a high H-2B overstay rate.” In 2017, the rate was pegged at close to 40 percent.
In other words, practically two out of every five Filipinos granted such work visas do not follow the terms they agreed to.
For the most desperate, going home is not an option because they will be looked upon as failures. Moreover, their relatives back home will be depending on them to continue remitting dollars for family expenses.
Thus, they take the big gamble of becoming unwelcome residents tagged as illegal Immigrants. For the rest of their extended stay in the US, they will constantly live in fear of being discovered and eventually deported, but not before spending some time behind bars.
To our countrymen making such plans as overstaying in the US, we can only say this: don’t do it.
If you seek work in the US, make sure you have the qualifications. In addition, be sure to have a job waiting for you. Forget the old route of coming in on tourist visas and hoping to miraculously land high-paying jobs from companies which will also sponsor your work visas.
For the most desperate, look to other countries which have more liberal entry rules.
Better yet, do not give up on our motherland. Yes, life can be hard in the Philippines but there is no lack of work for those who are not choosy and who are willing to go the extra mile to move forward.
The good news is that the Philippines is expected to move out of Third World status within the next decade or two.
Forget the thought of becoming the classic TNT or tago ng tago. Such Filipinos are simply not welcome in the US. They were never welcome in the first place.