May 3, 2008
Reference: Steven Raga; Coordinator, BAYAN USA Northeast, email: NY@bayanusa.org
Filipinos in New York Unite for Immigrant Rights on May 1 Rally
New York City, NY—New York is an immigrant city, and Filipinos are a central part of it. In the midst of thousands of immigrants and demonstrators on May 1 rally, the Filipino contingent showed their unity with the broader immigrant community of New York City.
Under the banners of BAYAN USA and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), over 100 Filipinos joined the May 1st mobilization in Union Square, New York. Demonstrating for rights and legalization for undocumented immigrants and workers, the contingent demanded legalization for all the undocumented, family reunification for immigrants, a scrapping of the immigration backlog, and worker rights for immigrant workers. The contingent also raised the issue of the Philippine government's Labor Export Policy, in which the result is over 3,000 Filipinos leaving the Philippines per day, further highlighting the importance of immigrant rights for the Filipino community.
"The issue of immigration in the US is not just about borders," stated Valerie Francisco of FiRE, "raids and deportations are breaking up our community, the backlog of immigrants put on hold has a stranglehold on families that yearn to be together again."
Conditions for immigrant workers have worsened, as now the Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE is enacting random checkpoints and raids on many immigrant families, including Filipinos. The Filipino group stood in solidarity with other immigrant communities to demand that policy and legislation safeguard the rights of immigrant workers.
Julia Camagong of NAFCON stated "In the United States, immigrant's rights and worker's rights are one in the same, and the Filipino immigrant community is the embodiment of it. A case like that of the Sentosa 27 Nurses proves that no matter your profession, immigrants must be made aware of their rights as workers in this country."
"We cannot deny that the US immigration system has deep impact on the lives of nearly four million Filipinos in the US, one million of which remain undocumented," expressed Anakbayan's Jonna Baldres. "If we don't demand that this broken system be positively reformed so that it recognizes all immigrants as human beings with inalienable rights, then we are accepting defeat against the capitalist monster."
The worsening living conditions for the Filipino people under President Gloria Macapaga Arroyo are also at play when forcing Filipinos to migrate out of their motherland to the United States.
"The truth is the extreme poverty, corruption, and now food crisis in the Philippines sends over 3000 Filipinos out of the Philippines daily. Many come to the US seeking decent lives and to support their loved ones back home. We cannot tolerate a racist and xenophobic immigration system here in the US. May Day must be a day we fight for our rights, just as the early manongs did along the Pacific Coastline at the turn of the 20th century. No concession from the state ever came without extreme struggle. May Day is no different," Baldres added.
Among the demands at the May 1 action was an end to the ICE raids and deportations, which continue to intensify in the tri-state area. Many Filipinos have fallen victim to random checks by security forces in trains, buses, and other means of public transportation. Many more are rounded up, detained without due process, and deported back to the Philippines.
Active and founding members of the New York May 1st Coalition for Immigrant Rights, BAYAN USA and NAFCON have done their part in rallying Filipino representation in these historic marches, the first of which ballooned into the largest mobilization in New York history back on May 1st, 2006.
For more information, contact Steve Raga at NY@bayanusa.org.