SF Filipinos Form Immigrant Rights Task Force

Harold Butanas gives his testimony as an undocumented worker who experienced human trafficking to participants of the event.

On June 19th, Filipinos in San Francisco, led by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) created a “Filipino Immigrant Rights Task Force.” The new group aims to educate and organize the broader Filipino community and its supporters around the issue of “genuine comprehensive immigration reform.”

The Task Force numbering more than fifty Filipinos from all over San Francisco, united on three months of plans including community forums, multi-media projects, and mass-actions. These projects aim to capture the attention of congressional representatives and the public with stories that tell the triumphs and struggles of undocumented Filipinos in the U.S.

“By sharing these stories, our goal is to show the government and all of America that undocumented people in this country deserve dignity and justice. Immigration reform should be about protecting our rights and keeping our families together instead of treating us like criminals. It should not be a crime to find work to support yourself and your family,” said Harold Butanas, an undocumented worker and a member of Migrante Northern California.

Butanas who shared his testimony with the participants of the Task Force launching, came to the U.S. in 2007 as a high-skilled welder and became a victim of human trafficking. Promised a 3-year job contract with at least $22/hour pay, his company announced that they were unable to employ him and sixty seven other Filipinos after working for just two months. In addition they only paid the workers $18/hr.

Following Harold’s testimony, the task force discussed and united behind NAFCON’s “Principles and Demands on Genuine Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” before going on to making their plans of action. The document articulates as one main principle the need to address issues of “Forced Migration” as well as demands including legalization for all undocumented, ending deportations, reunification of families, and an end to human trafficking.

“To us, no immigration reform is genuine unless it includes all the pieces in NAFCON’s principles and demands,” said Jun Cruz the alliances public information officer and one of the organizers of the event.

Following the discussion, the dozens of participants broke out into three task force teams including event planning, education and outreach, and action. In the breakouts members of the task force first identified who would serve as leaders of each team and then brainstormed on what projects they would take on.

For more information on the Filipino Immigrant Rights Task Force and NAFCON contact Jun Cruz at 415.333.6267 or email jun@filipinocc.org. ###

Nikki Santiago Victoria facilitates discussion on ending forced migration a main part of NAFCON’s principles and demands.

Valerie Francisco professor at University of San Francisco and member of Gabriela USA translates parts of the program in Tagalog.

Education and outreach team, one of the breakout teams of the task force discussing their 3 month plans.

Group shot of Filipino Immigrant Rights Task Force holding yellow NAFCON Principles and Demands.

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