This coming 2017 will be a momentous year for the political and moral landscape of the planet. There is a rising tide of political and moral challenges facing humanity.
Pope Francis will continue his historic
reforms of the Church and the Curia, bringing back the Gospel values and
true evangelization. He will continue challenging the world to work and
cooperate for peace, justice and freedom. He will promote daily the
Gospel message of truth, honesty, compassion, mercy and the spirit and
values of human rights and the dignity of every individual and
The American president Donald Trump and his extreme
right wing views are contradicting the liberal, compassionate and more
diplomatic approach of President Barak Obama. The New Year will likely
be dominated by controversial issues. After Donald Trump takes office on
January 20, 2017 a strict immigration policy will be implemented.
will have a huge impact on undocumented residents of the United States
affecting all nationalities- Mexicans, Filipinos, Irish and British,
just to mention a few who are in the United States undocumented.
will slow the inflow of immigrants and stop accepting refugees. He will
accelerate the deportation of all those without legal documentation to
be in the USA. This will cause the break up of families, separating
children who are citizens from their parents and relatives who are not
legal immigrants. Human suffering will follow.
The change in
immigration policy to restrict Mexican and South American workers coming
legally and many illegally to the United States seasonally for
harvesting fruits and vegetables and doing the dirty work will damage
the incomes of American farmers and construction companies that rely on
the abundant cheap Mexican labor from over the border.
will find it harder to get a tourist visa or any kind of visa to visit
friends and relatives in the United States. This is because of the
change of foreign policy of Philippine President Rodrigo Dutere away
from the United States in favor of China and Russia. The requirement of
the US immigration not to have supported in any form whatsoever the
extrajudicial killings will challenge visa applicants.
upset a lot of Filipinos. The US immigration department is becoming
strict on the screening of Filipinos especially those who are applying
for a visa whether they are in the Philippines or any other country. If a
visa applicant has expressed online, on Facebook or any other social
media or is known to have supported the extrajudicial killing under the
Duterte administration, they will have to comply with the requirements
the Torture Victims Protection Act.
On the application form
DS-160, they will be asked if they have ever "vommitted, ordered,
incited, assisted or otherwise participated in acts of torture. . . or
extrajudicial killings as defined in the Torture Victims Protection
Act." If the applicant has ever cheered or attended rallies supporting
the acts of killing of suspects the applicant has to answer yes. The
visa will be likely refused.
If the applicant answers no and it
is reported or otherwise comes to light that the applicant did express
support for the extrajudicial killings, they could be arrested in the
United States and charged with a violation and jailed or deported. It's a
serious offense to give false information to the US immigration
officials. Under President Trump, it will be strictly enforced.
could be the start of four years of contentious issues. Even if Trump
backs away from his more outlandish and provocative campaign rhetoric
yet his threats to withdraw from treaties like the Paris climate change
agreement will also dominate the New Year.
As the global warming
continues to heat up, the message of Pope Francis on the world
environment is of greatest importance. The Arctic ice melting quickly,
the rising levels of the ocean inundating low-lying islands and coastal
towns and villages will cause social unrest globally. There will be
outrage and great civil unrest in the United States also as the Trump
administration activates the coal industry, leaves basic wages the same,
reduces corporate tax to 15 percent and removes protective
environmental and financial regulations. The billionaires in his
government and outside it will continue their self-enrichment and he
will fail to deliver the prosperity promised to the marginalized
electorate who voted him into office.
The poor in America and
the world will likely realize after a few years of Trump that
billionaires do not approve of long term investment for poor
communities. They are against development aid for countries of the
developing world. They will exploit the poor countries to get a big
profit from controlling the raw materials and natural resources. They
are there in office not to serve but to enrich their own wealth and that
of their companies. If international trade deals are rescinded, it will
hurt the US economy as well as many other countries and the poor most
For all of us, 2017 is a challenge with the rise of the
right political groups that advocate exclusion and nationalism. This
will be countered by the awaking of the broader population to its
dangers to democracy yet it will take a few years for it to fade from
the political scene as the refugee challenge continues.
We hope and
pray for 2017 to see the strengthening of the dignity of the people, an
end to the killing of suspects, the reign of justice and peace and
respect for the rights of children.
Columban Missionary Fr Shay Cullen is director of the Preda Institute in the Philippines. For more information see: http://www.preda.org