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A CALL TO ALL FILIPINOS AND IMMIGRANTS OF ALL NATIONALITIES TO UNITE TO DEFEND IMMIGRANT R

by Jack Vergara Saturday, Apr. 29, 2006 at 11:35 AM
cdir_losangeles@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Coalition to Defend Immigrant Rights (CDIR), a multi-ethnic alliance of immigrant rights advocates in Los Angeles, calls on the Filipino American community to march shoulder to shoulder with their Latino brothers and sisters and come out in force on May 1, 2006. Rallyists will assemble at Broadway and Olympic St at 12:00 PM and march to the City Hall and at 7th and Wilshire St. (MacArthur Park) to La Brea in Los Angeles.

A CALL TO ALL FILIPINOS AND IMMIGRANTS OF ALL NATIONALITIES TO UNITE TO DEFEND IMMIGRANT RIGHTS, ALL OUT FOR MAY 1!

The Coalition to Defend Immigrant Rights (CDIR), a multi-ethnic alliance of immigrant rights advocates in Los Angeles, calls on the Filipino American community to march shoulder to shoulder with their Latino brothers and sisters and come out in force on May 1, 2006. Rallyists will assemble at Broadway and Olympic St at 12:00 PM and march to the City Hall and at 7th and Wilshire St. (MacArthur Park) to La Brea in Los Angeles.

Why should the Filipino community march with other immigrants?

The Filipinos rank third in numbers behind the Mexican and Chinese communities when it comes to the communities affected by the immigration issue in the United States. The Filipinos together with the Latino communities have become more and more militant in their struggle for immigrant rights since 1996. There is an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The data compiled by the People’s CORE Immigrant Rights and Social Justice program and the CDIR based in Los Angeles will show why the Filipino community as a whole is becoming more aware and conscious and why Filipinos in America should fight for their democratic rights as immigrants:

1. According to the US census of 2000, there are 2.8 million Filipinos in the United States. Based on the same data, 37 percent of the Filipinos are in precision production, crafts and repair; 27 percent are operators, fabricators and laborers. 24 percent are in technical, sales, administrative and service occupations and 11 percent of Filipinos in the US hold managerial positions. Basing on these data, it is safe to assume that vast majority of the Filipinos (78%) belongs to the working class.

2. There are more than 800,000 Filipinos TNT’s (undocumented residents) in the United States. There are 1.5 million immigrants (those who have green cards – both new arrivals and old – who are waiting for their citizenship). Several Philippine consulates have pegged the number of illegal immigrants to 185,000. Majority of these immigrants (slightly more than 50%) are working women serving as nurses, in the entertainment business, civil and government services and in the service sectors.

3. The state of California has the highest concentration of Filipinos with 918,325 or 25% of the Asian population second only to the Chinese with 980,642 or 27% of the Asian population. Out of this number, 493,000 is in Southern California (where Los Angeles County is located) and 321,000 are in Northern California.

4. The same data from California studies shows more than two-thirds (⅔) of the Filipino community consists of immigrants (62%). Forty-four percent (44%) have less than high school education, and more than 28% live in crowded housing or do not have their own homes. It is significant to note that 22% of the community speaks little English.

5. A particular sector, senior Filipino American veterans (whose ages range from 70 years old to 90 years old), suffers not only from non-recognition but consequently from denial of pension benefits rightfully due them. There are 11,000 of them who emigrated from the Philippines and who live in the United States and are now being discriminated against. They are not recognized as American veterans and live on Social Security Incentives (SSI) or in dire stage of poverty just like their fellow American veterans who comprise the homeless and destitute in the United States.

The Filipino Immigrant Situation in the United States

Still, the greatest problems that Filipino immigrants face are the blatant racist policies and practices institutionalized by the system. The most serious problem every Filipino immigrant faces is the long wait for family reunification that lasts anywhere from 15 up to 20 years. This is due to the immigration policy that allows only 70,000 Filipinos to get a visa per year. Their personal and familial mental health and emotional state is greatly affected.

There was even a time when a very high rate of suicide developed among Filipina teenagers in Southern California due to these problems. According to US embassy data, there are 5 million Filipinos who have applied for a visa in the Philippines and who are waiting for them to be processed.

Even though Filipinos, together with the Vietnamese, have the highest rate of naturalization (63%) among Asians or the acquisition of citizenship by law, they remain targets of racist attacks and ostracism. These attacks have been on the rise, especially after Sept. 11, 2001. More and more are becoming victims of racist slurs in communities. Some are kidnapped or killed; others face trumped-up charges just because they are people of color. Funding is denied for basic services. The American government propaganda on Muslim Filipinos and Mindanao as a “safe haven for al-Qaeda in Asia” affects the community.

FAMILY REUNIFICATION NOW! LEGALISASYON NA!

We call on the Filipino American communities everywhere to stop acting like “little brown Americans.” Let us unite with our Latino brothers and not be swayed by racist slurs against the Latinos. Do not believe the lies that the Filipinos will suffer because the immigration reform laws will only benefit the Latino community. Full immigrant rights will not only benefit immigrants of all nationalities; it will strengthen the entire working class as well.

Progressive Filipinos, especially immigrant organizations, should not take pride that the Filipinos graduated from sugar cane cutters and farm workers to white-collar professionals. Majority of the so-called middle strata of society suffers the pain of high mortgages, skyrocketing prices of homes that amount to half million to $700,000 per home in California that anyone can own.

They also suffer from soaring credit-card debts (an average American owes $65,000 in credit card debts), the rising cost of sending their children from high school to college; and, most of all, low wages, less and less affordable health insurance, and the increasing dangers of social security and health benefits being taken away by the Bush government and private corporations.

In 1996, the US government denied immigrants the benefit of welfare. For the past several years, veterans’ benefits have been cut drastically. Housing rights funding was removed last year. Relief and funding for victims of natural calamities like the Hurricane Katrina in the south is being hijacked for the war efforts and to sustain the preferential treatment (tax breaks and other incentives) accorded to corporations.

At a time when the entire working class in the US is facing all these assaults from the US government acting at the behest of big business, it is convenient to incite racism and single out immigrant communities, such as ours, as scapegoats of the worsening economic crisis that all working people have to bear collectively. It is also a cause of alarm that US unions, by and large, are still predominantly white and male at the top, have been unable to organize more members, and thus represent a shrinking percentage of the entire workforce. These factors diminish their ability to counteract these attacks and come ably to the defense of immigrant workers.

Meanwhile, Filipino women and children are being trafficked into the United States and end up in legal brothels. Many are drawn to serve the armed forces just to get citizenship and affordable pay and benefits.

Undocumented Filipinos work degrading, dirty and dangerous jobs like long-range truck driving, catering, kitchen work and others. Even those in the technical, administrative and civil service are being charged of “reverse racism” or being biased against Caucasians who steadily are losing out their jobs to college-educated Asians, especially Filipinos, in the government service.

Last March, 2006, four Filipinas were deported back to the Philippines from Seattle, Washington. Immigration and homeland security authorities also cracked down in Chicago, Illinois, raiding suspected Filipino immigrant homes and scaring them to hide deeper into the shadows. More than 1,800 undocumented immigrants of all nationalities were rounded up in the East Coast. The state of Georgia passed more stringent anti-immigrant laws. But the immigrants will no longer stand for these racist attacks anymore.

And so, the Filipino American community in the United States – aware of the problems they face and getting united as a community – will come out and march against racism. Together with workers and oppressed immigrants of all nationalities, they will demand:

STOP INJUSTICES AGAINST ALL WORKERS! STOP ALL ANTI-IMMIGRANT AND RACIST LAWS!
FAMILY REUNIFICATION NOW!
TUNAY At GANAP NA LEGALISASYON NA!
DEFEND IMMIGRANT RIGHTS! #


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