Bay Area, CA, Aug. 27 – Filipinos in the Bay Area have a fun new way of educating their community about immigration reform. Members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, Northern California and the Filipino Immigrant Rights Task Force are taking a serious issue and making it fun by inviting their kababayan to dance the Cha Cha in support of immigrant rights.
In an event held last Saturday, August 24th, in San Francisco the NAFCON and the task force held a program with inspirational Filipino songs and shared moving testimonies about immigrant struggles and empowerment with the nearly 100 attendees.
Afterward they encouraged participants to wear headbands saying, “Dignity and Justice for All”, “Keep Families United”, and “End Forced Migration” while dancing the Cha Cha. The organizers say including dignity and justices for all as well as uniting our families are key parts to having a truly Genuine Immigration Reform.
Aldrin Dela Santos (an alias), and undocumented worker in the U.S. explains his feelings on why all immigrants deserve dignity and justice. “Hindi tayo dapat turingin bilang mga kriminal dahil kung tutuusin, tayo mga Pilipino ay naasahan nila at mapagkakatiwalaan nila sa trabaho. (We should not be treated like criminals because in reality, the U.S. depends and trusts us, Filipinos, for labor.)
Aldrin, like many other Filipino workers in the U.S., longs to be united with his family and children who are in the Philippines.”
NAFCON and the Task Force also emphasize the importance of connecting the current immigration debate to the issue forced migration to address the real root cause of the problem.
NAFCON President Terrence Valen explains, “While we are also struggling for a Genuine Comprehensive immigration reform, it is a fact that millions of immigrants will keep coming from the Philippines and countries around the world unless we address the root causes of why people are forced to migrate.”
Jeremias David a member of the Filipino Immigrant Rights Task Force continued, “We should solve government corruption in the Philippines, which causes poverty and unemployment in the Philippines. These conditions force people to leave the Philippines when they would rather stay in their homeland and be with their families. So end forced migration and fight for genuine comprehensive immigration reform.”
The program also included a surprise guest speaker before the dancing began. Former Philippine Congressman Mong Palatino of the Kabataan Partylist spoke to the audience about the burning issue of Pork Barrel, while visiting here in the U.S.
“Pork Barrel equals to corruption and the biggest pork barrel of all is the president’s. And the pork barrel of the president cannot be accounted for. ‘A former budget chief exposed that the president’s pork barrel can be up to 1 trillion pesos,” said Palatino.
The organizers of the event thought it was important to highlight the Pork Barrel scandal as one example of the corrupt political situation in the Philippines that creates the poverty that forces millions of Filipinos to have to migrate to support their loved ones.
“Due to the poverty in the Philippines, many Filipinos feel they are left with no choice but to face harsh and exploitive work conditions by employers on one end and criminalization and the threat of deportation by the U.S. government on the other because their homeland has nothing better to offer in terms of livelihood,” said Valen.
This is why NAFCON is encouraging all those concerned with genuine immigration reform in the U.S. to deal with the issue of forced migration by participating in the International Assembly of Migrants & Refugees 4 (IAMR4) to be held in New York on October 3rd and 4th. The IAMR 4 is an opportunity for people in the U.S. and around the world to challenge the United Nations who will be convening at the same time on the issue of migration.
“We are going to the United Nations in New York in October to fight for immigrant rights on an international level. So that way we can fight for migrants to be able to stay in their countries and live and grow and not be forced to leave their homes and their loved ones,” closed Valen.
At IAMR4 participants will develop strategies and actions toward gaining Dignity and Justice for all Immigrants, Keeping Families Together, and Ending Forced Migration.