Immigration Wisdom from the Philippines

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

December 12, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s immediate immigration priorities are on illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes, but the Philippines may be ahead of the U.S. immigration enforcement curve by sending the message to all Filipinos living here illegally to head home. From the Philippines Diocese of Balanga, Bishop Ruperto Santos encouraged his countrymen who might be living in the U.S. unlawfully to return home. Filipino Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello seconded Santos’s suggestion.

Returning to the Philippines is not all bad.


In his recommendation, the bishop sounded an overly alarmist note. Santos: “To protect themselves and not to put their future in danger, we advise them [illegal alien Filipinos] not to wait to be branded undocumented and be deported.” According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, in 2014 nearly 50,000 Filipinos lived in the United States lawfully and perhaps as many as 270,000, as reports, unlawfully. Overall, the Philippines sends more immigrants to the U.S. than most believe, most concentrated in – where else – California.

Interestingly, “going home” normally connotes warm and fuzzy feelings unless the reference is to illegal immigrants returning to their birth country. Then, going home is a bad, bad thing, maybe the worst imaginable fate. Yes, there’s poverty, terrorism threats, overcrowding and drugs in the Philippines – just like in California. But the Philippines also has one of the world’s lowest living costs, 7,000 magnificent islands, beaches and historic sights.

Even before Trump has been inaugurated, stories about illegal immigrants fearing without cause that they’ll be forced to return home have dominated the news. But put into perspective, going back may not be as bad as the media portrays it.

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