By critically assessing Filipino migrants’ fraught and uneven experiences of the public, I illustrate how race and class hierarchies operate to mark Filipino temporary foreign workers as foreign ‘others’. Because public spaces are structured in gendered and racialized ways, Filipino migrants strategically navigate public spaces to ensure their safety and create their own spaces of belonging that give them refuge against xenophobia. I argue further that the paradoxical discourses of multicultural inclusion and economic protectionism invoke the figure of the ‘good’ migrant and the ‘bad’ migrant. These, in turn, promote contradictory actions towards migrants, whose public acceptance hinge on wildly variable and changing notions of inclusion/exclusion and economic acceptability. These lead to the passage of inconsistent policies where migrants are read as being ‘good’ one day, and as being ‘bad’ the next.