Two Fil-Am GOP leaders in California defend Trump
SACRAMENTO — California is such a Democratic Party stronghold that it was not a surprise that Hillary Clinton won the state during the last presidential election.
More Fil-Ams are Democrats, and little is often heard of Fil-Am Republicans. Not anymore. Among Asian Americans candidate Donald Trump got the most support from Filipinos, and now that he’s President Trump, his Fil-Am supporters are gaining more visibility.
Young Ninio Fetalvo has been appointed as an assistant press secretary, Joyce Meyer is the White House’s chief liaison to the House of Representatives and Noel J. Francisco is Trump’s nominee for solicitor general.
In the recent California Republican Party’s Organizing Convention in Sacramento, two key Filipino Republicans from the San Francisco Bay Area told INQUIRER.net their views of the new president’s first few weeks in office.
Convention delegate Cristina Osmeña from San Mateo California, daughter of former Philippine Senator Sergio Osmeña III (who escaped from a Marcos political prison in 1977) has been a registered Republican since she became a US citizen seven years ago and had been a Republican sympathizer even before then.
Osmeña admitted that the Trump’s first executive order, the travel ban on travelers from now six known Muslim countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and now to exclude Iraq– has been extremely controversial for many immigrant communities.
“I understand the spirit of the travel ban. I understand Donald Trump’s intention was to identify high-risk countries that are sources of terrorists and to vet people from those countries a little bit more deeply. (Nevertheless,) I think that the ban itself and the way it was executed could have been done a lot better. It left a lot of people stranded. It was not necessary it was perhaps insensitive fact that there are many U.S. residents that are foreigners,” Osmeña explained. “(But) it is perfectly okay to require that people assure the government of the United States that they do not have any ill intentions when they enter the country.”
For longtime Fil-Am community leader Rudy Asercion, Trump is doing precisely what he was elected to do – secure the border and make sure that the Americans are safe.
“This ban is only for 90 days and is all part of the process of securing the border and making sure that everybody that comes in are vetted and also to make sure that no terrorist no one intending to harm will set foot on American soil. That is what the American people need right now,” Asercion argued.
“The seven countries that are being banned in Trump’s executive order are from the Obama administration’s list, and Trump did not identify those countries,” claimed Asercion. (Actually, according to PolitiFact, Obama’s actions dealt with people who had visited Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, not citizens of those countries, and it did not prohibit them from entering the United States but only from doing so without first obtaining a visa, as allowed for citizens of 38 countries.)
Asercion also stated that if Filipinos have legal status and are honest individuals, they are not going to have immigration problems whatsoever as only those with criminal records need to be worried.
Asked on efforts to make not just many cities sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants but to make California a sanctuary state, Osmeña believed that this might be going overboard. (Sanctuary cities do not use municipal funds or resources for the enforcement of immigration laws.)
“I can understand that people want to protect the undocumented immigrants that have come in here. In fact, I sympathize with the efforts of local governments to protect the people in our communities that are undocumented. My strong opinion is that California‘s economy is somewhat dependent on the presence of the people here without documentation. I think it would be detrimental to the economy of California if all of them were deported,” Osmeña observed.
“(But) I think that the Trump administration’s intention is to keep out the undocumented that are detrimental to our society. I do come down to the Trump administration side that they should be harder on illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants with criminal records. “
In a Facebook post, Asercion wrote that Fil-Ams are conflicted about San Francisco being a sanctuary city because it has many Fil-Am “TNTs” (tago nang tago or undocumented).
“The City has 36,800 Filipino American residents, 4,000 of whom are facing deportation. San Francisco Mayor is defying the enforcement of federal immigration law and President Trump said he would defund sanctuary cities, which will affect the quality of law enforcement, making it less safe for Filipinos. Filipino students will have to endure the negative consequence of funding cuts in education. Women, infants and children will be the most impacted. The city funds will go towards defending the 4,000 TNTs and not to the non- profit organizations that are providing the safety nets for The City’s poor working Filipino families,” Asercion elaborated.
On the affordable care act (ACA), Osmeña considers the program “very, very controversial and complex” although a comprehensive, workable alternative has yet to gain a united Republican Party support. But she hoped Obamacare will be repealed and replaced because premiums are reportedly going up.
“The initial affordable care act was assembled and put together really quickly and rashly. There were a lot of compromises. It was a major piece of legislation that I don’t think was executed very well. Since 2010, we (the Republicans) have had six years to plan and construct a replacement affordable care act. And there have been many other Republican alternatives, with a lot of thought put into them,” Osmeña said.
Wait and see
Asercion wanted to first hear what the legislature, dominated by Republicans, is going to say about the Affordable Care Act, how they are going to renew it or what part of it they are going to delete or retain before making a comment.
“Hopefully they will make ACA better, make it affordable, accessible to everybody so that it can be worked out. It may take a while for it is going to be a long process. What we want is that everybody is going to be covered,” Asercion anticipated.
Osmeña acknowledged that there is a level of animosity between Donald Trump and the news media.
“And I do believe that media probably has leaned more to the left and responded to Donald Trump as such. I think that coverage is coverage. You have the right to free speech. You can come up with whatever opinions you should come up. You should be a free media. I do not agree with him that media is a public enemy,” expressed Osmeña.
News media not the enemy
Asercion echoed Osmeña’s contention that the media is not America’s number one enemy, contrary to what Trump and his press people said.
“I have known people from the American press also, not only the Filipino press. By and large, I think there is bias in the mainstream regarding Mr. Trump and rightfully so because of the way he comes on personally. He doesn’t have quite the finesse of Mr. Obama. He is a completely different person. Another thing is that Trump is not a politician. One of the things that I think got him elected is that he is a very pro-growth administration. Everybody that he has appointed, including those in is cabinet have been very successful beings before. So that worked to his advantage,” expounded Asercion.
Positively for Trump
Overall, Asercion rates Trump positively at 50 percent in his first two months in office.
“For the amount of time he has been in office, I think he is doing rather well. He has done some amazing things, but basically Mr. Trump is the exact opposite of Mr. Obama. And we know that he is going to go up to all the executive orders that Mr. Obama issued so he can reverse them. That’s what he is actually doing,” said Asercion.
Osmeña was more cautious, saying there were things that Trump had done that she agreed with and things she disagreed with.
“And I can say that I do really, really enjoy watching Melania and her wonderful dresses and clothes,” kidded Osmeña.
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