Bipartisanship Good for Fil-Am Vets But Gets Trump in Trouble on DACA

Bipartisanship Good for Fil-Am Vets But Gets Trump in Trouble on DACA

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As Washington searches for a way toward real bipartisanship in Congress on tough issues like DACA, we celebrate the passing of a resolution in both the House and Senate to honor Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Low-hanging fruit? Slam-dunk? Not necessarily.

It required 70 senators to co-sponsor a resolution led by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono. And then it needed more than 290-member of the House so it could pass by unanimous consent, Ben De Guzman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project told me.

The real work was getting the legislators to understand why the Filipino World War II vets deserved a Congressional Gold Medal. More on that toward the end of the column.

News of the Congressional medal for the Filipino Vets coincidentally comes after Donald Trump stumbled while trying to be bipartisan on the more contentious Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Hungry for power?

After a meal of Chinese food with Trump, Democratic leaders Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi acted out a variation of an old joke. An hour later (or thereabouts), and they really were hungry for a power.

They released a statement that said a framework for a deal on DACA had been reached.
“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” the statement added.

The idea was border security would somehow be combined with at the DREAM Act, which the Democrats a week ago called for an immediate vote.

But if a deal was done, Trump apparently had a case of acid reflux.

Tweeted Trump: “No deal was made on DACA.”

He followed that up with more tweets that a wall definitely would be built. But then Trump tweeted out two other messages, which sounded like a real pathway to something was being discussed.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really…!”

And: “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”

Later, Trump told the media he was behind some kind of plan. The lesson for the day: Bipartisanship will not be easy, though it appears Trump doesn’t mind being called “Amnesty Don” by Breitbarters.

He threw them some red meat after all the DACA hubbub when he repeated his remark about violence “on both sides” at Charlottesville.

What’s up with Trump?

He’s showing he’s tired of losing the straight Republican way on just about everything.

So as Trump tweets and defines and redefines himself on any number of issues, we’re all playing a kind of bamboo politics, bending left or right, depending on the issue, as needed.

It’s a kind of situational politics that is really not much different from any successful politician in the recent past, from Obama, to Bush, to Clinton (Bill or Hillary).

Is it principled enough? Is it too compromised?

When ideology gives way to practicality, it may just be the cost of getting something done.

Let’s not forget even Obama had his compromises. He not only gave us DACA, but deported millions of people during his tenure. And then there was Guantanamo.

He wasn’t perfect. Just way more perfect than Trump.

Now for some real bipartisanship

Contentiousness has a way of screwing up attempts at bipartisanship. On DACA, it was interesting to see the Republicans immediately fight among themselves.

The nationalists see DACA recipients taking away jobs and admissions spots in college, and want them all deported pronto.

The more compassionate conservatives see the DACA recipients as smar, and upwardly mobile. They won’t mind a pathway to citizenship as long as it provides the 800,000 a pathway to the GOP.

And Trump? All he cares is that you see him as the guy who fixed another “mess” left by his arch-enemy, Obama.

It will take some doing to get to a bipartisan promised land on contentious issues.

For now, issues like The Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal resolution passed by both the Senate and the House, serve as a reminder that the two legislative bodies and all the parties can work together.

Considering where they are now, we must marvel at any bipartisan display. And wonder what do we have to do to get to that kind of clarity?

Ben De Guzman told me on my podcast, Emil Amok’s Takeout that the toughest part was educating the legislators. Many just didn’t know the role of Filipinos and the Philippines in the Pacific during WWII. They knew MacArthur retreated and returned, but they didn’t know how important the Filipinos were during the void, fighting under the U.S. flag as the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East.

For the community, the big news may be how those eligible for the medal include more than just the Filipino Vets who were subject to the Rescission Act of 1946.

The Congressional Gold Medal is expansive in scope and will now be awarded to all Filipinos who served in WWII.

In other words, not just those Filipinos who answered Roosevelt’s call in the Philippines, but also Filipino Americans who were in the U.S.

De Guzman said the number eligible for replica medals could be as high as 250,000.

The actual gold medal will be awarded on Oct. 25 in a special ceremony at Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in DC. It will then be on display at the Smithsonian.

A community celebration is also planned after the ceremony and the first 1,000 who registered at will get replica medals.

Go to that website to see if your loved one’s service makes him or her eligible for a replica.
DeGuzman said it’s not too late to register.

The organization is counting on community donations for the medals (each on costs around $52).
As De Guzman told me, “There’s still time to get one for Lolo.”

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator, does a podcast, “Emil Amok’s Takeout” available on iTunes and YouTube. Contact him at