New York– More than 100 Filipinos and immigrant allies joined at least 250,000 more in a New York City immigrant rights rally as part of the April 10th national day of action across several US cities, calling for comprehensive immigration reforms amidst the ongoing immigration debate in Capitol Hill. The Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition (J4I), a broad formation comprised of Filipino organizations and individuals from New York and New Jersey, raised their banners and flags high in a sea of multi-national representation in front of Manhattan’s City Hall. The Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition is an active member of the Steering Committee of the April 10 Coalition.
“We are the third largest immigrant group, and second largest Asian population in the US. Over 60,000 Filipinos migrate to the US every year. We migrate not because we have dreams or illusions of luxury. None of us choose to leave our loved ones behind and live a life substandard to the rights, freedoms, and opportunities afforded to citizens. Our migration is forced by an economic crisis rooted in and fueled by US foreign dictates that prevent the self-determination, economic development, and industrialization of our home country and others,” stated speaker Berna Ellorin of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, a member of the Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition, on the main stage. Berna Ellorin was the only Filipino speaker during the April 10 Rally for Immigrant Rights.
The vibrant and spirited Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition contingent convened and marched from Wall Street in downtown Manhattan and eventually joined the broader Queens-based Immigrant Communities in Action contingent that marched to the main rally site in front of the NY City Hall. A large Philippine flag marked the contingent alongside the flags of J4I member groups Anakbayan, Migrante International, Philippine Forum, and Bayan USA. Several Filipinos passing by and working in the Wall Street area noticed the Philippine flag flying high within the massive crowd and joined the J4I Contingent on site.
The Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition was formed in January 2006 and has been actively educating Filipinos in Queens and Jersey City on the current trends in US immigration legislation, including the heated Congressional debate that is sparking immigrant protests across the country. J4I recently led its fourth community forum in Jersey City last weekend at the law office of immigration attorney Ian Hinonangan after three forums in Queens and a Filipino community demonstration and march for just and humane immigration reforms along Roosevelt Avenue last April 2nd.
Among the coalitions concrete demands are legalization for undocumented persons, swift family reunification, no to the criminalization of immigrants and their supporters, and full worker protection and rights for immigrants. The coalition is also adamantly opposed to and denounces the passing of US House Resolution 4437 (HR 4437) last December.
“We Filipinos must assert our basic human right to live in dignity and with the opportunity for economic prosperity, and will tolerate no immigration system that sees us as subhuman and treats immigrants as modern-day slaves. Filipinos are joining this growing and unstoppable immigrant rights movement in the US, even as the Arroyo goverment back home is shamelessly bowing down to US dictates and not lifting a finger to protect us,” Ellorin continued.
Marchers in the broad Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Contingent on April 10th included members of Filipino American Human Services Inc (FAHSI), Sandiwa National Filipino-American Youth, Sumisibol, Anakbayan, Philippine Forum, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Migrante International, Bayan USA, Movement for a Free Philippines, Kinding Sindaw, and the Critical Filipino/Filipina Studies Collective.
J4I is actively calling on all Filipinos to participate in a Filipino community vigil for immigration reform on Sunday, April 23rd, 1:30-3:30pm in at the Philippine Forum Office, 54-05 Seabury Street in Elmhurst, Queens. The Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition is also organizing a Filipino contingent to join the next massive, nationally-coordinated immigrant rights rally on Monday, May 1st, 4pm in Manhattan’s Union Square. The Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition is a member of the Steering Committee of the May 1 Coalition.
“We must stay vigilant and moving during this Senate debate and especially after. No genuine and significant social change ever came about from a law that was passed, or from politicians who deliberate in Congress. Change has only come from the people. When people move, engage in diligent struggle, only then can our demands for immigration reforms be concretized,” Ellorin ended.
For more information, contact Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition at 718-565-8862, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view and download pictures from the April 10th rally, visit www.migrante-ny.blogspot.com. ###
Henry Soliveres, Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition, email: justice4immigrants @ yahoo.com
Robert Roy, Philippine Forum, email: philforum96 @ yahoo.com