Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — More than 300,000 Filipinos illegally staying in the United States may face deportation, special envoy to the U.S. Babe Romualdez said Tuesday.
"I received that information from our friends in Washington, D.C. that there's a list from I think the homeland security that there are about 310,000 Filipinos up for deportation," Romualdez told CNN Philippines in an interview, referring to the US Department of Homeland Security.
"These are mostly undocumented Filipinos that they are able to identify," he added.
The Philippines is not in U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order banning the entry into America of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
But as Trump follows through on his promise to secure U.S. borders, Romualdez warned, Filipinos in the U.S. could be affected as authorities step up its sweep of illegal immigrants.
Romualdez, however, added he did not see the specific list of names of Filipinos facing deportation, and does not have information as to how the names were gathered.
He also said thousands more Filipinos could be added to that list, and advises those who don't have legal papers to consider leaving the US soon.
"I think they should really be prepared to go home," he said.
Also read: Trump's immigration ban sends shockwaves
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirms — out of 3.4 million Filipinos in the U.S., around 310,000 are undocumented.
Romualdez says the number may include "Filipinos that [are] overstaying but may not be residing in the U.S."
"They too are vulnerable to this policy of Trump," he added.
Filipinos join protests
The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns has been joining protests in California and New York against Trump's immigration policies.
They said the threat against undocumented Filipinos in the US is real — especially since Trump, in one of his speeches in the run-up to securing the Republican presidential nomination, named the Philippines as among "terrorist nations" whose citizens should not be allowed to enter the U.S.
The group claims, up to a million Filipinos in U.S. could be affected in the new administration's immigration regulations.
"Trump has used anti-immigration words and sentiments and scapegoated immigrants for what's happening in the U.S.," National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Secretary General Aurora David told CNN Philippines.
She added, Filipinos fear "their families can get deported" anytime, "especially those who are undocumented."
Following President Duterte's cue — his spokesperson said Filipinos in the U.S. should abide by Trump's policies.
Also read: Duterte tells Filipinos to follow rules amidst U.S. immigration ban on 7 countries
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will not lift a finger to help undocumented Filipinos in the US.
"As far as the President is concerned, he will abide by the decision of the U.S. government," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said. "Well, they are all under U.S. law, so they should abide."
Also read: Duterte: PH-U.S. relations remain 'as is' with President Trump
U.S. Ambassador Kim: Trump order 'not racism'
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the Trump's order was not driven by racism, even as he acknowledged confusion about the "exact parameters" of the executive order.
"This is not racism. This is not unfair prejudice," Kim said, speaking in a forum of businessmen in Manila.
"How do you remain as open as possible, but at the same time, make sure that you do everything possible to make the environment safe for your citizens? And I think this was reflected in the executive order is, is an effort to make sure that we are taking appropriate steps to provide the necessary security for our citizens and anyone who's residing in the United States," he said.
He hoped the next few days will reveal "better clarity regarding the exact parameters of the executive order."
Kim also acknowledged the anxiety many felt about obtaining visas and traveling to the United States.
"I understand, all of you are worried about visas. I want to emphasize that despite many rumors out there, we continue to welcome Filipino visa applicants," Kim said in forum with businessmen.
According to Kim, the Non-Immigrant Visa Unit processed more than 220,000 visas for Filipino visa applicants in 2016.
He added, efforts are made every day to make the visa process more efficient and comfortable for Filipino visa applicants.
"I'm totally committed to this effort," Kim said.
CNN Philippines' Senior Correspondent Ruth Cabal and Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.
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