NY/NJ Filipino Americans Unite with Immigrant Rights Groups

Against Backward Immigration Legislation


Union Square, New York City


May 1, 2010




Photos courtesy of FIRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment)


For Immediate Release
Contact: Cris Hilo, BAYAN Northeast Coordinator, cshilo@gmail.com

NY/NJ Filipino Americans Unite with Immigrant Rights Groups Against Backward Immigration Legislation
Fil-Ams March for Immigrant Rights for Fourth Consecutive year on May 1

Union Square, New York City- In the blistering New York summer heat last Saturday, groups of Filipinos from New Jersey and New York marched together against Arizona's SB1070, and New York State Senator Schumer's Proposed Immigration Reform. More than 75 Filipino immigrants alongside American-born men, women, and youth joined the ranks of about 25,000 immigrant rights supporters from a diverse set of ethnic backgrounds at Union Square. Arizona’s SB1070 has heated up the ongoing struggle for immigration reform and uncovered the racist core of current immigration reform proposals. SB1070 gives power to police authorities to criminalize immigrants, legalize racial profiling, and impose militarist law enforcement. It seeks to test out elements of Schumer's proposal including criminalization of immigrants, harsher border security, stricter national identification system, and temporary worker programs.

From Union Square to Foley Square, the contingent marched with large signs resembling replica ID cards to raise awareness on the detriments of the Schumer bill and Arizona's SB1070. Bystanders were drawn to the live ID cards held by participants, the voices and faces of immigrants. The slogans "Legalization for All!" and "No to Deportations!" have been used consistently since the 2006 May Day rally when the Sensenbrenner bill was proposed, also criminalizing undocumented immigrants and those who helped them, marking the lack of progress in true immigration reform.

"Immigration has only gotten worse with harsher raids, legislation, and deportation for our communities. We need genuine immigration reform that will allow legalization for all. Our demands have been the same for the past four years and there has been no change initiated by our elected officials. We must continue to apply pressure, whether by marching in the streets or boycotting Arizona products, to make sure they do something! If Arizona doesn't repeal SB1070, then that will make it easier for other states in the U.S. to propose and pass racist laws. We must continue to tackle the real problems of immigration, rooted from the broken, neo-liberal sociopolitical economic system that forces people to leave their home countries due to horrible economic conditions. More than 3,000 Filipinos leave daily from the Philippines and more than 1,000,000 Filipinos in the United States are still considered undocumented," stated Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA.

Rico Foz, Executive Vice President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) said, "SB1070 would legalize racism and it must be stopped. If these laws and these types of reforms, which continue to separate our families, are not repealed we will keep on regressing as a nation. We must continue to move forward to legalize all immigrants, and expedite visa-processing. We cannot be treated like second-class citizens in a country that relies on immigrant labor.”

"As Filipino women in the United States, the lack of motion in Obama's promised change in immigration reform has created only a greater divide amongst our families. Schumer's proposed plan for immigration foreshadows only more deaths at the border, a temporary worker program that will create more family separation, and an ID system that violates our basic civil liberties. We need real change in immigration that promotes family reunification," added Valerie Francisco from GABRIELA USA.

Members and representatives of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), BAYAN USA, GABRIELA USA, Sandiwa National Alliance of Filipino-American Youth, Migrante NY/NJ, Anakbayan NY/NJ, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Philippine Forum NY and NJ, Kabalikat: Domestic Workers Support Network, and Kapatirang Pilipino (Kappa Pi) Fraternity with fellow NYC community groups including Jornaleros Unidos de Woodside (Day Laborers United of Woodside), Union de Vendedores Ambulantes de Queens (Street Vendors Association of Queens), Sisa Pakari Labor Center, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Independent Workers Movement, and May 1st Coalition organized the contingent of Filipinos and allies that marched together for legalization for all.

For more information go to www.bayanusa.org, www.nafconusa.org, or www.gabusa.org.




Together, We Have. Together, We Are. Together, We Will….

May 1st, 2010

A Unity Statement of the Filipino Community on Immigrant Rights

Together, We Have
Worked the fields and in the canneries
Nursed the ill and the elderly
Taught the young and tomorrow’s leaders
Fought for freedom and defeated tyranny
Invented new technologies and perfected the old
Ministered to congregations celebrating life and coping with grief

Together, We Are
The doctors and nurses who heal the sick and tend the wounded
The engineers who build skyscrapers and roads
The accountants who keep businesses running, small and large
The custodians and room cleaners, clerks and dock hands who do thankless jobs with dignity and pride
The veterans who braved world wars to defend democracy
The farm workers, cooks and waiters, who put food on America’s tables
The playwrights and poets, painters and musicians who awaken our dreams and inspire our actions
Four million people who are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, employees, partners and community members

Together, We Will
Continue to cherish the American values of equality and freedom, and oppose misguided policies that undermine them.
Keep families and communities, workplaces and homes together, because dividing us weakens us all
Fight for immigrant rights that value our contributions to society and give us the opportunity to fulfill our potential to build a better world.

Our Principles and Demands:

Uphold the dignity and humanity of all individuals. Legalization now!
Civilized society embraces equality and upholds the humanity of all people. Labeling individuals “illegal” demeans them, and forces millions to endure dangerous jobs, and to toil in the shadows in slave-like conditions. Criminalizing people for being “undocumented” subjects millions to the exploitation of traffickers, to remain in abusive relationships, or to refrain from reporting crimes because the authorities may imprison the victim instead of the perpetrator. We need legalization now, to free our community from the indignity of being labeled as “illegal”, and the inhumane treatment which is sanctioned by it and endangers us all.

Unify and Protect Families
Families of all shapes and sizes—parents and children, siblings, cousins and grandparents, same sex couples–deserve to be together. Many Filipino families have been waiting over 20 years to have their petitions for loved ones approved. We must clear the Family Visa backlog to stabilize our communities, both in the U.S. and in our homeland. We must protect immigrant women and children escaping abuse, and refuse to allow them to be subjected to the further cruelty of deportation. Children of immigrants should be shielded from all harm, including separation from their families and the threat of deportation. Support services must be provided in our languages and with sensitivity to our cultural values and norms.

Value Our Labor– Workers Rights for All!
The U.S. was built with the blood and sweat of working people. All workers must have the right to organize and to be free from exploitative contracts and working conditions. Having a underclass of workers drives down wages and protections for all of us. We must normalize the status of guest workers, because temporary contracts serve as a tool to undermine all workers. Law enforcement should punish illegal recruitment agencies and unscrupulous employers and lawyers, who maximize profits by preying on vulnerable and desperate workers—workers should not be penalized for the actions of their employers. The labor and contributions of all people, including immigrants and those who are undocumented, should be valued equally.

Dignity, Respect and Due Process for All!
The US government’s aggressive foreign policies of war and exploitation fuel economic and social instability worldwide. Immigrants should not be blamed for our national security concerns. Rampant raids, deportation, and inhumane conditions in detention centers jeopardize the safety of everyone. The billions of tax payer dollars contracted to build up and further militarize the U.S.-Mexico borders does not make us safer. We must build our immigration policies on the sound universality of human rights, not the volatility of criminalization and militarization.

Forced Migration is a Result of the Global Economic Crisis
One-sided and unfair trade agreements that have been designed to maximize profits for greedy corporations have destroyed the economy of the Philippines and many other countries, contributing to the ever-worsening economic crisis that has forced millions of Filipinos to seek jobs and means of survival elsewhere. U.S. political and military support to corrupt regimes who bankrupt their countries and repress their people also fuel worsening migrant and refugee conditions. We will link arms in solidarity with all migrant communities in the U.S. and internationally, until we have built a society where all people can thrive, families are not fragmented and separated by the urgent need for survival, and our homelands have the conditions in which all people can live a decent and humane life.



National Alliance for Filipino Concerns * BAYAN USA * GABRIELA-USA * SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth* Filipino Advocates for Justice * FOCUS (Filipino Community Support - Silicon Valley) * Philippine Forum New York * Fellowship for Filipino Migrants - Chicago * AnakBayan Chapters of East Bay, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, New York/New Jersey * Babae SF * League of Filipino Students-SFSU * SiGAw (Sisters of Gabriela Awaken) * Philippine Forum New Jersey * South of Market Community Action Network * Filipino Ministry - Diocese of San Bernardino * Filipino Migrant Center - Los Angeles* Stanford Pilipino American Student Union (PASU) * Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) - New York* Pinay sa Seattle * Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines - Portland, New York, San Francisco Chapters * Filipino Community Center - San Francisco * Pilipino Youth Coalition - Southern Alameda County * Habi Arts - Los Angeles