Kawal Ulanday, Chair, BAYAN USA, email: chair @ bayanusa.org
Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN USA, email: mc @ bayanusa.org
Now that Department of Foreign Affairs has broken its silence on the immigration debate in the US Congress with a simple “Come home na” to Filipino illegals in the US, Filipinos are responding with a pointed message– “We’d rather go home to an Arroyo-free Philippines.”
According to DFA Spokesperson GIlberto Asuque, Filipinos in the US staying in violation of US immigration laws should come home. “All we can do is advise them to follow US immigration laws, the same way that we want foreigners to follow our own laws,” Asuque stated recently.
“This is a major slap in the face for Filipinos in the US, considering this is a government that cannot even arrest and prosecute foreigners who rape Filipino women,” stated Berna Ellorin of the Filipino-American alliance BAYAN USA.
In response to Asuque’s advise, BAYAN USA asserted it is the Philippine government, in subservience to the US government, that places Filipinos in the US under such dangerous predicaments as TNT’s (Tago-Ng-Tago).
“The mere fact that Filipinos, even in the face of such repressive laws, still opt to risk their lives in the US to work rather than return to their homeland proves how rotten, intolerable, and unsurvivable the conditions are in the Philippines.Over 80% of Filipinos live below poverty levels alone. No Filipino chooses such a life of hiding in the US. They are forced into it by economic circumstances. We challenge Asuque to back up his piece of advise with the concrete promise of jobs and an economic future for our families if we go back home from the US,” Ellorin continued.
BAYAN USA asserted that these words verify what many have felt all along, that the Arroyo administration is turning it back on the struggle of Filipinos in the US who are fighting for basic human, civil, and economic rights amidst the flurry of repressive immigration legislation, such as the controversial Sensenbrenner Bill, that the US Congress is deliberating on.
Moreover, the Arroyo administration should at least educate themselves properly on bills such as Sensenbrenner since the provisions seek not only to criminalize undocumented persons, but ALL Filipinos in the US, greencard-holders and citizens included, as long as they “assist” undocumenteds in any form.
“Gloria Arroyo has done her part generating the one of the highest unemployment rates in our economic history, securing a record-breaking fiscal crisis, and now boasts of sending off one million more Filipinos abroad as ‘modern-day heroes’ to rake in billions of dollars worth of remittances to save the Philippine economy. Asuque’s remarks prove not only useless to the plight of overseas Filipinos, but reveals the government’s criminally negligence that enables the intensification of abuse and exploitation of Filipinos abroad to continue,” Ellorin continued.
“If Filipinos stand to be jailed and deported as felons because of these laws, then let us just register now that we want to see a Philippines is free from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when that day comes,” Ellorin stated.
BAYAN USA pointed out that Filipinos in the US generated 60% of the total $10.7 billion in remittances to the Philippines in 2005 alone. In fact, without the critical intake of remittances from Filipinos in the US, the Philippine economy would not survive. It is estimated that 1 Filipino in the US provides for at least 3-4 family members in the Philippines.
BAYAN USA and allied organizations in the US are projected to intensify their national campaign against the Sensenbrenner Bill and generate critical Filipino community work for just and humane immigration reforms. Of the 4 million Filipinos in the US, over 1 million are undocumented, one of the largest undocumented populations in the country.
The alliance also promised that as it intensified its campaign for comprehensive immigration reforms in the US, it would continue to heighten its call to oust the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.