'Filipinos are welcome to enter US'

MANILA -- Filipinos who wish to travel or live in the United States for whatever reason can do so, the US State Department said Friday, February 3.

"I recommend Filipinos who wish to travel to the United States, (they) should consult with the embassy of Manila," said US State Department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner in a press conference.

"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," he added.

The Philippines is not among the countries that have been marked by US authorities as a "country of concern," which means, Filipinos can continue their travels to and from there, or benefit from residing and working in the United States.

Just last week, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order denying US entry to citizens of seven countries, namely, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The order also covers everyone with a visa from these countries, including "green card" holders who left the US and plans to come back. They will undergo scrutiny and might be prohibited from re-entering the US.

READ: Q&A: What does it take to be a legal immigrant in the US?

Speaking more broadly before US-based Filipino journalists about the executive order signed last week, Toner said, “Obviously, all of you know that the Philippines was not one of the countries where a pause was initiated with regards to visas and with regards to refugees.”

Toner was speaking of those who have legal resident status and other visa holders who wish to travel to US.

While the US government has no issues against the Philippines, Toner advised all who wish to travel to the US, for whatever reason, to make sure that they will have legal status in the US.

American authorities, under the new US president, have been under strict orders to deport illegals and those who have criminal records.

"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," Toner said. (PNA)

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