New York/San Francisco–The national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US known as BAYAN USA is strongly urging Filipinos in the US to oppose the possible passage of US House Resolution 4437, otherwise known as the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (Sensenbrenner Bill), which is up for review by the Senate Judiciary Committee this February and hits the Senate floor for a vote this coming March 2006. Such a bill poses staunch anti-immigrant state action that will devastate the over 3 million Filipinos living in the United States today.
“The Sensenbrenner Bill is perhaps the most state-repressive bill to hit US immigrant communities in since 9/11. It will surely effect all Filipinos in the US, whether you are documented or not, in an oppressive way,” states BAYAN USA Chair Kawal Ulanday.
Amongst the most criticized points of the bill, which passed 239-182 in the US House of Representatives last December 16, 2005, are:
- the “unlawful presence” of undocumented persons would now be considered as a crime and felony, with the perpetrators subject to jail time and barred from future legal status and from re-entry into the country
- Immigrants, including asylum-seekers, victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic abuse, and children who are apprehended along an international border or at a port-of-entry would be detained until such time as they are removed from the nation or otherwise provided immigration relief.
- Anyone or any organization who “assists” an individual without documentation “to reside in or remain” in the United States knowingly or with “reckless disregard” as to the individual’s legal status would be liable for criminal penalties and five years in prison.
“Let us not be fooled into thinking this will curb the undocumented phenomenon in this country, of which Filipinos number over 1 million, or defeat terrorism for that matter. This bill is an assault on all immigrants, their families, and friends in the US. It will enforce an unprecedented peak in state-imposed martial law against immigrants since the US Patriot Act was passed,” Ulanday stated.
BAYAN USA asserted that undocumented population in this country will not cease to grow under such oppressive laws. Filipinos and other low-income migrant populations are forced into a life of exploited undocumented status here in the US because of a fiscal crisis made possible under the design of unjust and elitist global economic policies– policies authored by the US corporate elite, enforced by the Bush administration and its US puppet regimes in developing nations. For Filipinos, this translates to the record-breaking fiscal crisis made possible by the US puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that has made it impossible for Filipinos to survive in their own homeland.
“A just and lasting solution to the undocumented phenomenon must first and foremost address its global economic roots. It will never be solved by criminalizing migrants and making them suffer through the government’s opportunistic usage of the word ‘terrorist’ in order to justify sucking in billions of tax-dollars towards so-called defense spending to the deprivation of the American people in desperate need of genuine social services.” Ulanday continued. BAYAN USA cited the battle for comprehensive pro-people immigration reform that promotes civil rights, liberties, economic and social welfare for all peoples is a battle that belongs to all US taxpayers. “The US is a nation of immigrants and workers. The Bush administration and its cohorts in legislature are lobbying for this bill not in the interest of Americans, but to expand the climate of fear that has legitimized a profit-making and sensationalized ‘war on terror’ within our own borders, at the expense of our lives, the lives of our families, and our tax dollars.”
BAYAN USA and its allies called for critical community opposition to the bill. “Those who stand for civil rights and liberties, no matter who you are, must let their Senators know they do not support this bill.” Aside from massive letter-writing and petition-signing to senatorial reps, BAYAN USA vowed to increase national protest and community education on the bill throughout this year. “It will be up to the Filipino people to make their opposition felt not only in Senate, but more importantly on the streets,” Ulanday ended.
For more information on local Sensenbrenner Bill opposition actions in your area, contact BAYAN USA at info @ bayanusa.org.