How will Obama's immigration reform affect Pinoys?

Posted at 11/07/12 10:18 PM

MANILA – If President Barack Obama follows through on his promise of immigration reform, it will affect not only the Filipino-American community in the US but Filipinos in the Philippines as well, immigration expert Atty. Lou Tancinco said.

Tancinco, who is based in Hawaii, said a complete immigration reform will bring a number of benefits to Filipinos here and abroad.

“If there is going to be an overhaul of the immigration system, then the family-based system will also be fixed. Meaning to say, the backlog will be lesser, there will be more family unity, in terms of business immigration, we are looking at an increase in working visas and improvement of investor’s visa,” she told ANC’s “Prime Time” on Wednesday.

But Tancinco noted that what is needed is an “overhaul of the whole system” and not just a “temporary relief.”

“A legislation that will actually reform the immigration law. Right now, there is no pathway to citizenship. What the executive order has done is a temporary relief to a very limited number of undocumented immigrants. This time, we would like to see an overhaul of the whole system,” she said.

Delivering the promise

When Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he made a similar promise, but the reform never materialized.

However, Tancinco believes this year’s victory is a different story.

She said that based on Obama’s campaign promises, he appeared more aggressive and determined to pass the immigration reform law.

Dean Tony La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government also believes that Obama will now be “hard-pressed” to deliver on his promise due largely to the support he received from the Latino community.

“With the strong emphasis on family reconciliation, whatever happens in terms of reform in the US will affect the Filipinos here. I think what’s different now with this victory of Obama, is that clearly one of the reasons for the victory is his strong position on reform on immigration. Therefore, he will be now hard-pressed to deliver on that reform because his constituents, especially the Latino vote, would expect that to be delivered,” he told ANC.

Tancinco also said the Filipino-American community also made waves during Obama’s campaign, which may translate to jobs in the Obama administration.

“I think this time, there were a lot of Filipino-Americans who actively campaigned for President Obama, I think they are getting noticed and we have a strong advocate group in Washington right now. I think we would see more Filipino-Americans in the White House, working for the President,” said Tancinco.

Strategic, direct campaign

La Viña credits Obama’s strategic and directed campaign for his victory, saying that while Mitt Romney’s business credentials could have done good to the US economy, he lacked a "clear vision."

“The US may be in a difficult situation now, but there was no compelling alternative,” La Viña said.

He also cited Obama’s empathy towards the American people as one of the reasons for his re-election.

Tancinco, meanwhile, believes that a majority of Filipino-Americans still believe in the principles of the Democratic party.

She said Filipino-Americans are “more educated and more sophisticated” in their decisions.

She said despite the economic crisis, most of them did not put the blame on Obama.

“They have faith in Obama and they believe he needs 4 more years to make things happen and improve economy in the US,” she said.