- A White House official clarified the Philippines remains not a ‘country of concern’ for the US
- The clarification came amid growing fears over Trump’s EO implementing travel ban on citizens of seven countries
- The US added that Filipinos are still ‘welcome’ to American soil
MANILA, Philippines – Allaying fears among US-based Filipinos and those traveling to and from the US, a White House official clarified that the Philippines remains not a ‘country of concern’ following President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order implementing a temporary travel ban on citizens of 7 predominantly-Muslim countries.
US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement on Wednesday that while human rights remain an area of concern for the US, the relationship between the two countries provides them an opportunity to talk about these ‘concerns’, and at the same time, “pursue a very productive and forward looking bilateral relationship”.
“The Philippines was not among those countries that was labeled of concern so I would say that Philippines, Filipinos both in the United States and in Philippines themselves, should by all means, we welcome them to the United States,” said Toner.
Toner’s statement came amid growing fears that Filipinos residing in the US could be affected by Trump’s immigration crackdown.
The Philippines may also be placed on Trump’s travel ban as latest report claimed that the same executive order signed last January 25 is under review and is likely to be modified.
However, Toner said Philippines was not one of the countries “where a pause was initiated with regards to visas and with regards to refugees.”
Presently, the Trump EO has instituted a temporary travel for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“This is a decision that the president took in the national interest of the State. He has said very clearly that his first priority is to protect American lives and American citizens, and so he wanted us to conduct a review on some of the processes by which people travel into the United States,” said the White House official.
But still, Toner added, it is highly recommended that Filipinos traveling to the US consult with the American Embassy in Manila.