Filipinos across the U.S. Say Senate Immigration Bill Falls Short
Throughout the Country Filipinos Gear Up for Week of Advocacy and Action Starting May 1st to Tell Congress Prioritize Protecting Workers and Keeping Families Together Not Big Business and Profits
In the wake of the “Gang of Eight” release of the U.S. Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, Filipinos throughout the country respond to the proposed legislation.
Bernadette Herrera, a representative of Migrante Northern California and Vice-President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) says, “The bill ignores the reality for many Filipino families, where siblings go abroad to earn money to support their siblings. If this bill were to become law, many Filipino families would never be able to be together.”
The Senate current proposal eliminates the sibling category (18 months after the bill becomes law), which means U.S. citizens could no longer petition their siblings in the Philippines and other countries to immigrate to the U.S.
“In a lot of Filipino families, older siblings are the main wage earners and they take care of the rest of their siblings and cousins. Many send money back home to support their younger brothers and sisters and then petition to bring them to the U.S. so they can be together. This bill would deny them the chance to unite their family,” continues Herrera.
Even though the bill allows siblings to apply for a “merit based visa,” many Filipinos along with Herrera are concerned in situations such as if the sibling were disabled or not skilled in a category that allows them to be eligible for this visa.
Another concern with the Senate proposal is related to the December 31st, 2011 deadline to be eligible for a pathway to legalization. All current and future undocumented that arrive after the deadline will not be eligible.
Anne Beryl Corotan, a NAFCON campaigns coordinator in New York highlighted human trafficking as one example why the current senate bills falls short.
“There are workers who are still being recruited from the Philippines, promised decent jobs, brought to the U.S., and then forced to work in slave like conditions by threat of deportation. Based on this 2011 deadline, recent and future victims will continue to be left in the shadows without the options afforded by the proposed law,” says Corotan.
The proposed legislation entitled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” restructures the U.S. immigration policy more toward meeting the labor demands of big businesses in America along with plans to increase border enforcement, deal with the large visa backlog, and provide a path to legalization for the over eleven million undocumented in the U.S.
NAFCON who has been waging several campaigns protecting and advancing the rights and welfare of immigrants in the U.S. has just released its own proposal entitled “Our Principles and Demands for Genuine Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” that prioritizes protecting workers and keeping families together not big businesses and their profits.
Terrence Valen, NAFCON President, explains, “Our demands for genuine immigration reform are linked to our struggle for a world where all people can thrive, families are NOT separated by the urgent need for survival, and our homelands have the conditions in which all people can live a decent and humane life.”
Ultimately, NAFCON encourages the public to look beyond the current frame of the CIR debate and consider how U.S. economic relations with countries such as the Philippines play into contributing to the poverty that pushes so many to flee to the U.S. in search of opportunity.
As a part of its effort to influence the debate, NAFCON, with its 30 member organizations nationwide, is organizing a week of advocacy and action starting May 1st International Workers Day taking place in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, San Jose, Daly City, and San Francisco.
The week of action includes rallies and marches on May 1st, educational forums, release of art work and a newsletter launching a new cartoon strip series focused on the a fictional caregiver named Andrea Bonifacio.
In addition, the alliance will also lobby Senators Schumer (NY), Durbin (IL), Feinsten (CA) and others to utilize NAFCON’s Principles and Demands as a guide informing their decisions regarding CIR.
NAFCON will be joined by several other Filipino alliances including Migrante International U.S. chapters, Gabriella-USA, and BAYAN-USA.
For more information on NAFCON, its Principles and Demands on Genuine Comprehensive Reform, and participating in its week of action go to www.nafconusa.org or contact Terrence Valen at 415.333.6267.