Philippine president's drug war spares Filipinos' deportation from the U.S.
SCREEN GRAB / CNN
Donald Trump's immigration policies have drawn nationwide protests against the deportations.
PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war against drugs kept two Filipino immigrants from being deported from the U.S. The two Filipinos are not undocumented immigrants. Both men are green card holders who live in San Francisco with their families. They chose to remain unidentified. They were represented by the Asian Law Caucus, a legal advocacy agency. Serving jail terms for drug offenses, Immigration and Customs Enforcement started deportation proceedings against them, part of Donald Trump's crackdown on immigrants who have criminal records, no matter how minor. ALC attorney Kevin Lo successfully defended his clients' lives using the United Nation's Convention Against Torture. He argued that their lives would be endangered if they returned to the Philippines, where Duterte's anti-drug strategy which endorses the slaying of anyone connected to the drug trade, no matter if one is a dealer, manufacturer or victim.
“In evaluating the cases of the two Filipinos clients, we learned about the situation in the Philippines with President Duterte’s drug war. And when we realized that they had claims for protection under the Convention Against Torture, we decided to take their cases because we know the situation is pretty serious,” Lo told the Inquirer, a Filipino newspaper.
“We decided to make the argument that drug addicts who are deported to the Philippines has a more then 50 percent chance to be added to government watch lists and subsequently killed,” Lo explained.
The judge allowed the Filipinos to stay in the U.S. while Duterte is in office. If and when thte Philippine president's six-year term comes to an end, they would again be eligible for deportation.
Since Duterte has taken office, there have been over 8,000 extra-judicial slayings by the military, local police, private security guards or self-anointed vigilantes. Human rights advocates, including President Barack Obama, have condemned the executions without due process.
Despite the international criticism, Filipinos appear to support the Duterte's drug was as his popularity continues to be extraordinarily high.
Although most of the deportations under the Trump administration have involved people from Mexico and other Latin American countries, a large number of undocumented Asians -- one in seven Asians, or 1.65 million, according to U.S. immigration advocates -- are in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told Philippine authorities that up to 310,000 undocumented Filipinos may be eligible for deportation. The Philippine government estimates that there are about 3.4 million Filipinos and Filipino/Americans in the U.S.
In a phone conversation, Donald Trump praised the Philippine president and his fight against drugs.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Trump invited Duterte to visit the White House sometime in the future drawing strong condemnaton from human rights organizations. No date has been set for the visit.