The flags of the Philippines (right) and United States.


US bans Filipino workers, Philippines mulls appeal


MANILA – The Philippine government on Tuesday (January 22) said that it may ask the US government to reconsider the one-year ban it imposed on new Filipino migrant workers.

The ban was enforced on January 19 and remains in force until January 18, 2020.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government might consider appealing the US decision if it fails to prove that there is no basis to impose the ban.

The US Department of Homeland Security (US-DHS) said that new workers from the Philippines carrying H2-A and H2-B visas are no longer allowed to seek employment.

The US-DHS cited a high rate of overstaying Filipinos and high volume of trafficking victims in the US under the H2-B status.

H2-A visas are temporary visas for foreign agricultural workers while H2-B visas are issued to foreign workers providing non-agricultural services in the US.

“If that is the law in the US and if there were violations, then we have to respect if they have basis for that. We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated or being discriminated against. And if they violated the laws of the US, then they have to face the music,” Panelo said in a briefing at Malacanang Palace.

Panelo said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be in charge of working with the US in addressing the issues and filing an appeal.

“Until such time as they lift that… what we can do is first, we need to know whether there is basis for their decision,” Panelo said.

Panelo, however, did not necessarily agree with the DHS notice that cited a high volume of overstaying and trafficked Filipinos in the US unless it has concluded its investigation on the matter.

“Not necessarily. When you say human trafficking, the US government must have conducted investigation on that. If their investigation yields that there was a violation, oh I don’t think puwede tayong makialam doon (we can interfere),” Panelo said.

For the meantime, he said the Philippine government has to improve its anti-trafficking measures to prosecute traffickers and protect victims.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato, for his part, assured that the agency is addressing the concern and reminded Filipinos in the US to follow immigration rules and avoid staying beyond what is allowed in their visa.

“The Philippines is open to the possibility of working with the United States in addressing these issues, as it has previously done so with similar concerns involving the Filipino Community there,” Cato said. PNA


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