“Organize and Fight for Genuine Immigration Reform,” says Anakbayan-USA

New Jersey – National Filipino youth organization, Anakbayan-USA, calls on the Filipino youth and community to organize and struggle for genuine immigration reform.  This, according to the youth group, is in response to President Barack Obama’s recent executive order concerning DREAM Act eligible youth, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

“Seeing the thousands of youth lining up to apply for deferred action only reaffirms the need to organize and intensify our struggle for genuine immigration reform,” said Yves Nibungco, national chairperson of Anakbayan-USA.  “Clearly, DeferredAction is not the DREAM Act and it is most certainly not a path to legalization for our brothers and sisters,” Nibungco continued.

Deferred Action is an executive order by President Obama relieving DREAM Act eligible youth under age 31 from deportation providing that they qualify and fulfill its requirements.  It also allows them to apply for a work permit and in some states, a driver’s license.  This application comes with a fee of $465. An estimated 1.7 million youth are supposed to benefit from this administrative relief.  

But according to Anakbayan-USA, this recent development is a clear political maneuver by Obama in relation to the upcoming presidential elections this November. “Deferred Action is not a gift from Obama, rather it is a testament to the strength of the collective action of thousands of immigrant youth who took to the streets to put pressure on the government,”said Nibungco.  

Anakbayan-USA calls on the youth to be cautious in applying for Deferred Action.  As an executive order, Deferred Actionis not a law and may be subject to change at any time.  According to the youth group, this makes undocumented youth serve as “political hostages” in President Obama’s bid for a second term as presidential candidate. The youth group said that immigrant communities should not forget that under Obama’s administration, 1.1 million immigrants have been deported since 2009, higher than any other president since the 1950’s. Meanwhile, presidential candidate, Mitt Romney has said that he will veto the DREAM Act if he gets elected.   

That is why, according to Anakbayan-USA, Filipino immigrants should join the fight and push for legalization for all. “We call on the Filipino youth and the community to come together and take a stand on the side of immigrants. Let us organize and fight for genuine immigration reform here in the U.S. and an end to the Philippine government’s exploitative labor export program,” Nibungco concluded. 

The United States is home to the largest population of overseas Filipinos, numbering more than 4 million. With one million estimated to be undocumented, Filipinos are heavily impacted by the current inhumane immigration system, such as decade-long waiting periods for petitions of family members, rampant detentions and deportations.

These numbers continue to rise as the Philippine government intensifies its the Labor Export Program. This program that has led to the forced migration of Filipinos at the rate of over 4,700 leaving the country daily. Remittances from the nearly 15 million overseas Filipinos continue to remain at an all-time high contributing to 12% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Last year alone, remittances from overseas Filipinos reached $20 billion. The Aquino administration has substituted this for genuine land reform and national industrialization as foundations for national development.*

Chapters of Anakbayan-USA nationwide will be conducting more info sessions regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. For more information contact anakbayan.usa@gmail.com

UNDOCUMENTED AND UNAFRAID BOOK TOUR

Co-sponsored by Anakbayan New Jersey

 “Undocumented and Unafraid: Tam Tran, Cinthya Felix, and the Immigrant Youth Movement” is a new book was written by and about undocumented immigrant students. The book features the voices of immigrant youth leaders throughout the country who have waged a courageous campaign to secure passage of the federal Dream Act.  It features two leaders of this movement, Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix, who were tragically killed in a car accident in May 2010.  Both were UCLA alumni who went on to prestigious graduate schools and both played a pivotal role in the immigrant youth movement.

The book event will also provide an update on the recent decision by the Obama Administration to stop the deportation of Dream Act eligible students and to grant them work authorization.  This change in policy will potentially impact more than one million immigrant youth, and represents the most significant change in immigration policy in 26 years.  This event will feature leaders of the immigrant youth movement who helped to secure this victory.

The book event will feature UCLA Labor Center director Kent Wong, student authors and editors of the book, and short video clips capturing the spirit and power of the immigrant youth movement.

Community Groups Hold Forum on Deferred Action in Jersey City

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 Photos by Noel Pangilinan

Jersey City, NJ -Filipino youth activist group, Anakbayan New Jersey, joined forces with immigrant and lawyers organizations last August 12 for a “Community Forum on Immigration Reform: Deferred Action” held at the Pope Lecture Hall, Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City.  The said forum provided vital information regarding the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or most commonly known as “Deferred Action.”  It also aimed to empower the Jersey City immigrant community to continue the struggle for comprehensive immigration reform. 

The immigrant community turned out in large numbers to learn about the said new immigration policy.  Anna Brown, head of the Social Justice Program of Saint Peter’s College, gave a warm welcome to the attendees of the forum.  Councilman at-large, Rolando Lavarro, also gave welcoming remarks, commenting on his own experience.  The speakers include DREAM Act activists, Giancarlo Tello and Brenda Aguilar of the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC), and Filipino lawyer and immigrant rights advocate, Attorney Cristina Godinez. They provided  an overview regarding the said new policy.  The forum also provided free legal consultations to the community headed by lawyers from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).

“Deferred Action is simply a stop-gap measure, a band-aid for the overall immigration issue that America faces and is not to be confused with the Dream Act. While the Dream Act is definitely a goal, we should not and will not forget our parents, aunts, and uncles and will continue to push towards ultimately Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” said Giancarlo, core member of the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition or NJDAC. .

Meanwhile leaders in the Filipino community talked about the need to build a strong immigrant movement. Jonna Baldres, Deputy Secretary General of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) gave a comprehensive presentation on the socio-economic factors that lead to forced migration.  “We only want to provide for our families but our governments are forcing us to migrate to look for livelihood elsewhere, separating us from our loved ones.  We must come together, stand up and fight against the 1% that exploits us.  It is only just for us to demand respect, dignity, wages, benefits and rights that are rightfully ours and due to us,  until we achieve full legalization for all,” said Ms. Baldres.

According to statistics, an estimated 2 million individuals nationwide and 40,000 in New Jersey can be eligible for deferred action.  “It is important to note, however, that Deferred Action is not so much an achievement of the Obama administration, as it is the product of thousands of Dream Activists and allied organized forces, who continue to put pressure on US lawmakers in order to assert their rights as undocumented youth,” Bea Sabino, Chairperson of AnakBayan New Jersy, added. Community leaders urge the immigrant community to stay informed, be vigilant and organize support for comprehensive immigration reform.

Anakbayan New Jersey called on the Filipino youth to take part in fighting for immigrant rights. “Filipinos are the second largest immigrant community in the United States.  We come from five centuries worth of migration history, which includes notable personalities like Philip Vera Cruz and Carlos Bulosan, who dedicated their lives to fighting for the civil rights of immigrant workers.  Our identity as young Filipinos in America is deeply rooted in that history; hence, we must step up in continuing the struggle against racism, exploitation, illegalization and criminalization of immigrants. At this juncture in US immigration policy, we must always keep in mind that, undocumented or not, every human being has rights to education, fair and just wages, healthcare and the due process of law,” concluded Ms. Sabino.

The Community Forum on Immigration Reform: Deferred Action was organized by Anakbayan New Jersey and was endorsed and co-sponsored by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Philippine Forum-New Jersey, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC), Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Action 21, and the Saint Peter’s College Social Justice Program.

On August 25, the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition will be holding a free Deferred Action application drive from 11am to 5pm at the Paul Robeson Campus Center located at 350 Martin Luther King Blvd. Newark, NJ 07102.  For more information please contact NJDAC at info@njdac.org