“Sex fiends in some of our Middle East embassies” is a headline-grabbing news item. It is a major story and a tragic one. In the first four months of the year, the remittances of overseas Filipinos jumped by more than five percent, defying a global trend of lethargic remittances from the traditional remittance powerhouses. As payback, some labor officials in the embassies had forcibly turned a number of runaway women OFWs into sex slaves.
Can’t it get sadder than that? Is that the way to respond to their sustained heroism? And why are the supposed protectors of the workers now the predators? Th top political leadership should come in and undo the damage. It should bring home the sex fiends in chains, then mete them with the severest of penalty—death by stoning. An eye-for-an-eye thing that harks back to the Old Testament form of justice would assuage the collective hurt of our modern-day heroes.
We should be serious about the Old Testament form of retribution on those who had officially abused our women OFWs.
Of course, the current saga of the OFWs is not all about government labor people caught in unpardonable acts of inhumanity. There is a major story that is developing in the US that requires watching and monitoring—the immigration bill debates. If the bipartisan efforts by the US Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill passes both chambers—and that reform bill is signed by a supportive President Obama—it would have a tsunami-like impact on the state of things in the Philippines.
Here is where it would impact most. It would offer the 11.1 million illegal immigrants now in the US, and many of them Filipino TNTs, a path to citizenship. The Filipino illegals in that 11.1 total —the estimates vary—can some out of the closet, literally, to be part of the working mainstream .
And after ten years on provisional residency permits , those qualified can apply for US citizenship.
The passage of the immigration bill would be the equivalent , at the minimum, of creating tens of thousands of dollar-paying jobs for US-based Filipinos. Former TNTs can now find jobs that are commensurate to their skills and training and make the most out of their stay in the US. They can send money openly to their next of kin in the country and in larger amounts.
Nurses working as caregivers can find mainstream jobs within the health system. Engineers working as mop men at the food chains can find more decent jobs. Accountants working as graveyard shift cashiers at the chains that operate convenience stores can end their exploitative work conditions and go mainstream.
With the mainstream status, would come a corresponding surge in the money that they will be sending home of the mother country. A double-digit rise in the remittances from Pinoys in the US would inevitably take place one year or so after the approval of the bipartisan immigration reform bill. As Pinoys in the US and North America are paid double or triple their Middle East counterparts, the rise of remittances from the US after the immigration law is put in effect would be substantial .
With the focus on attracting skills, and with less emphasis on reuniting families , the immigration bill takes off from Canadian efforts to make immigration policies attract the best and the brightest into Canada. The US will recruit based on talent, particularly on the STEM fields, to push innovation in the US into a higher level.
The bipartisan bill, as written, eases the visa grant to skilled talent and professionals, plus temporary work permits to farm workers. All sorts of Filipino talents can fit into these visa categories, even the strawberry pickers with the temporary “ blue” work permits.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has provided the sensible arguments for the passage of the immigration reform bill. By the CBO estimates , and this is usually hard-core number-crunching, the passage of the reform legislation would cut the federal budget deficit by $175 billion in a decade . Real GDP would increase by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 in 2033. This is because the new workers in the economic mainstream would pay more taxes and collect less benefits.
In short, the reform bill would boost the economy, energize creativity and increase productivity. It is not only about compassion and justice but of hard-core economic realities. It is universally admitted that immigration , even if the immigrants were of the low-skilled types, improves the economies of the host countries.
The official estimate of Filipinos illegally staying in the US, the TNTs, is 270,000. The migrant groups have a different tally , anywhere from 500,000 to one million illegals. The middle figure of 500,000, if that were the true figure, would be a game-changer in remittances, and a prop to the country’s economy.
Rough estimate : each of the 500,000 illegals would be sending in an additional of $100 monthly. That is a low estimate, of course, as the illegals are known to send an average of $1,000 a month to their families back home even with their TNT status—the dugo at pawis of back-breaking jobs as caregivers in the closets, or as mop men or convenience store graveyard cashiers.
In the open and as part of the mainstream, they would be remitting more. In a sustained and quiet heroism that has propped the mother country for ages.