AN estimated 10,000 Filipinos may end up getting deported as a result of Washington’s decision to cancel a program that allowed undocumented children to stay legally in the United States, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was introduced during the term of former US President Barack Obama, protects children brought to the US illegally from being deported to their respective countries.
The program does not lead to US citizenship but it is renewable every two years.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced he is revoking the DACA program and gave the US Congress until March 5, 2018 to come up with a law that would prevent the deportation of about 800,000 individuals covered by the program.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano assured those who would be affected by the move of US government assistance, including legal help in their immigration-related cases.
“We will authorize with certain limitations the use of the Assistance to Nationals [ATN] 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 for Childhood Arrivals,” Cayetano said.
For this year, the DFA has P400 million for its ATN and P100 million in legal assistance fund intended for overseas Filipino workers in trouble with the law in their respective host countries.
Cayetano advised those who would be affected by the changes to prepare for the worse while exploring other possible legal options.
“In any event, we are ready to welcome and assist our kababayan [countrymen]in whatever way we can if they are returned to the Philippines,” the DFA secretary said.
Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., said of the 3.4 million Filipinos in the US around 310,000 are undocumented.
The DACA program provides temporary legal status that allows qualified undocumented immigrant children from other countries to stay, study and work in the US.
Apart from the DACA cancelation, there is also a US immigration policy that disallows Filipinos and others who have obtained US citizenship from petitioning their parents or relatives to become US citizens.