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[babae] Filipina Women say NO to HR 4437!

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Marisa Mariano, Secretary General, babae San Francisco
Email:, 925-726-5768,

babae joins millions of people across the U.S. in denouncing the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437) and additional legislation proposed by Senators Arlen Specter and Bill Frist that threaten civil liberties and human rights. These anti-immigrant legislations not only intensify the criminalization of immigrants but of immigration activists, advocates, and all those who support the rights and welfare of immigrants, particularly immigrant women.

Among the major provisions of the HR 4437 bill are how the “unlawful presence” of undocumented immigrants becomes a crime where the person may be imprisoned, barred from obtaining legal status and re-entry to the U.S. At the same time, anyone (including family members) or any organization (such as domestic violence shelters and churches) that “assist” immigrants will also face penalties including 5 years imprisonment. The property used in this act will be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

babae is particularly concerned with a provision of the Sensenbrenner Bill that would detain and deport victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic abuse, and children who are apprehended along an international border or port-of-entry. 15,000-18,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. every year, 70% of whom are women and children. Victims of domestic abuse are principally vulnerable to this anti-woman and anti-children legislation in that it will allow for women and children to continue to be victims of domestic abuse for fear of being deported if they sought for aid or refused shelter because of their undocumented status.

“Filipinos will be among the hardest hit groups if HR 4437 is enacted into law,” says Marisa Mariano, Secretary General of babae. The Filipino community in the U.S. is one of the largest immigrant groups ““ numbering an estimated 2.5 million to 3 million Filipinos, including at least 1 million who are undocumented, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

babae condemns the gross negligence of the Philippine government, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for its continued silence on this issue. The Philippines is currently the third highest labor-sending country with the largest percentage of its nationals, over 10%, living abroad. This 10% generates the $10.7 billion in annual dollar remittances. The Philippine economy is extremely dependent on these remittances provided by overseas Filipinos. The largest population of overseas Filipinos are in the U.S., yet the Philippine government continues to neglect the immigrant rights of its overseas Filipinos – of whom it is so dependent on to sustain the Philippine economy.

HR 4437, if approved by the Senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush, would present a grave danger to all immigrants, both documented and undocumented. It is for this reason that babae stands in solidarity with women and children, and all people to uphold human rights and say NO to HR 4437!