MHC urges Trump to support immigrant rights

WASHINGTON -- Citing the unique contributions by immigrants that enabled America to become a great country, the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a US-based nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization run by Filipino immigrants, has urged US President-elect Donald Trump to take three actions supporting immigration issues and racial diversity.

"America is great because it is powered by immigrants," MHC Executive Director Arnedo S. Valera said in an e-mail to this writer referring to Trump's campaign theme to "Make America Great Again."

Trump will formally take his oath as the 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017, replacing outgoing President Barrack Obama.

Valera and MHC Co-Executive Directors Jesse Gatchalian and Grace Valera extended their congratulations to Trump.

The MHC officials appealed to the incoming US President to support three current immigration issues, as follows:

1) Comprehensive immigration reform. In 2013, a bipartisan bill addressing both legal and illegal immigration passed in the Senate, but fell short in the House of Representatives.

"We need to fix our broken immigration system through legislation, to make immigration rights a part of the nation's laws," Valera stressed. "Executive actions on immigration reform are a temporary solution because they can be discontinued by the next President."

2) Re-authorization of the executive actions made during President Barack Obama's administration, if comprehensive immigration reform is not doable in the 115th US Congress.

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), over 700,000 undocumented minors, brought to the US before age 16 and raised and educated in America, were granted lawful stay and work permits. They now face the possibility of deportation.

"Filipinos and Hispanics who availed themselves of this program have sought me and other lawyers," said Attorney Valera, adding that "they are understandably scared, having risked getting out of the shadows and entering the nation's data system. Because of DACA, they have a job and hope for a brighter tomorrow, but all of it could vanish in an instant."

3) Extension of the executive action on parole visa of surviving Filipino and Filipino American World War II veterans. Under this Obama executive action, Philippine-based single adults and married sons and daughters of surviving veterans with approved petitions are no longer under the quota system. Once their parole visas are approved, they can immediately enter the US with their families, as well as obtain work permits once here.

"We are hopeful in this regard, because family reunification is very much in line with American values," Valera added.

Although as a candidate Trump had vowed to "build a wall" to prevent immigrants from illegally entering the country, as president-elect he toned down some of his statements regarding some 11 million undocumented, including minors who, brought into the country without official documentation, were raised as Americans and educated here. Many American families have immigrant roots. Valera noted Trump's grandparents came to the US from Germany in search of a better life.

As immigrant lawyer, Valera remarks: "We are encouraged by the statements Trump made after his election. Campaigning is over, it is time to govern. It is time to move forward and embrace the future with optimism and confidence."

Immigrants' contributions

Valera noted that through the years, immigrants have made major achievements in promoting democracy, civil rights, the economy, science, the arts and other fields, contributing to America's unique stature in the world.

In addition, Valera cited Allied victory in World War II that saw Asians, among them Filipinos and also Japanese Americans, fighting valiantly side by side with American troopers.

Another factor he cited was the great sacrifice from 1864 to 1869, Chinese laborers helped build the America's first transcontinental railroad.

Since 1906 winners of the prestigious international Nobel Prize, 30 percent are immigrants, and one of them, Albert Einstein, was a refugee, who was famous of his Theory of Relativity."

"Many innovators and entrepreneurs of recent life-transforming and life-saving technology are immigrants," Valera pointed out. "Indeed, we are a nation of immigrants, and we are blessed as a great and diverse nation." (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency