Philippines may ask US to reconsider decision banning entry of certain Filipino workers
The Philippine government is eyeing to ask the United States to reconsider its decision banning the entry of Filipino workers with H2-A and H2-B visas for one year.
H-2A visas are given to foreign agricultural workers in the US, while H-2B visas are granted to non-agriculture workers. The ban is effective from January 19, 2019 to January 18, 2020.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Duterte administration wants to know why the US came out with such decision.
"What we can do is first, we need to know whether there is basis for their decision. If we can see that there's none, then we will ask for a reconsideration - but that's the job again as I said of DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the US Ambassador," he said.
The US Homeland Security Department, in a recent notice, said the Philippines, along with Dominican Republic and Ethiopia, should no longer be designated as eligible country for H-2A and H-2B because it "no longer meet the regulatory standards."
"The Philippines has a high H-2B overstay rate. In FY 2017, DHS estimated that nearly 40 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines overstayed their period of authorized stay," said the Federal Register, the daily journal of the US government.
It said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State are concerned about the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who have originally issued H-2B visas and the potential that continued H-2B visa issuance may encourage or serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines.
"DHS and DOS also believe that these overstay and human trafficking concerns are severe enough to warrant removal from the H-2A visa program as well. This concern is informed by a four-fold increase in H-2A visa applications from nationals of the Philippines between FY 2015-2018. The Philippines' continued inclusion creates the potential for abuse, fraud, and other harm to the integrity of the H-2A or H-2B visa programs," it added.
While the Duterte government may seek for reconsideration, Panelo said if there were really violations by Filipinos, "then we have to respect if they have basis for that."
"We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated or being discriminated against. And if they violated the laws of the US, then they have to face the music," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS