Fil-Ams Take Action on May Day to Protect and Advance Immigrant and Worker Rights
In commemoration of International Workers Day, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) takes to the streets in several cities throughout the U.S. as part of its ongoing campaigns to protect and advance the rights and welfare of Filipino workers here in America. In this economic system that seeks to increase profit by exploiting workers, employers frequently take advantage of the vulnerability of Filipino migrants who endure unbelievable hardships and are often the only ones supporting their families in the Philippines. In addition, the Philippine government does nothing to protect the rights of its workers here in the U.S. and instead sides with profit seeking corporations and business owners. In response, NAFCON mobilizes its members including grassroots organizations, community centers, lawyers, and other professionals to challenge this unjust system and protect the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants here in the U.S.
NAFCON also reaffirms the right of all Filipinos to work wherever they choose, regardless of legal status, and demands “Legalization for All” instead of the failed efforts at comprehensive immigration reform. NAFCON rejects the dehumanization of over one million undocumented Filipinos who are working hard to live decently in America and make up 25% of our population.
Especially in these harsh economic times, the attempts to further criminalize undocumented immigrants in legislation advocating for increased raids, racial profiling, detention, and deportation are in fact efforts by those in political and economic power to scapegoat immigrants and divert attention away from the true cause of the financial crisis: the overwhelming allocation of U.S. tax dollars to fund corporate bailouts and wars of aggression. In 2009 the U.S. government spent over $700 billion just for the bank bailout and in 2011 the military operations budget is currently $1.283 trillion. If the government appropriately allocated this money to serve the basic needs of the majority of taxpayers Filipino families and households would not suffer so much.
At the heart of the Filipino migrants struggle is the failure of the Philippine government to develop a national economy. For decades, each administration, including Aquino’s, has given the U.S. and multinational corporations free reign to steal the abundant natural resources of the country while the overwhelming majority of people get poorer and suffer in hunger.
It is said, “The Philippines is like a beggar sitting on a mountain of gold.” Year after year the U.S. provides economic and military aid to the Philippines as payment for continuing policies that keep the country backward, dependent, and unable to develop its own industry. This benefits the U.S. by making the natural wealth of the Philippines available for American corporations and their global partners to make profit. In addition, the systemic maintenance of poverty creates a large supply of extremely cheap and exploitable labor.
Today, four thousand Filipinos leave the Philippines everyday to find work abroad. In order to justify the Philippine’s sale of its own people, the government institutionalizes what is called the Labor Export Program (LEP), relying on the remittances of its overseas Filipino workers to keep the nation afloat. Yet the real solution is not sending our people and our wealth abroad, it is developing our industry so the Philippines can sustain itself.
NAFCON continues its campaigns to protect and advance the rights and welfare of Filipino workers building on its successes and compelled by the continuing struggle of Filipino migrant workers. Over the last year NAFCON has scored major victories in fighting against cases of Human Trafficking such as the Sentosa 27++ in New York and in the widespread exploitation occurring in the caregiver industry winning up to 70,000 in unpaid wages and penalties for victims of wage theft in the Bay Area. NAFCON cites these victories as example that workers who fight back and organize have the power overcome their exploitive situation.
Now more than ever it is important take collective action amidst the severely worsening economic climate. As times get tougher attempts to exploit Filipino workers will only increase. Bills such as SB1070 seeking to increase harsh and unjust treatment of our immigrant communities are gaining momentum in various states throughout the U.S. while the Philippine government continues to develop its LEP. NAFCON encourages all Filipinos and allies to join in our campaigns to resist and build the peoples movements to protect and advance the rights and welfare of Filipino workers.
End Exploitation of Filipino Migrant Workers!
Legalization for All!
No to Philippine Labor Export Program (LEP)!