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Legalization for all! Stop the raids and deportations!

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Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

Statement of BAYAN USA on the Occasion of May Day 2008

On this May Day 2008, BAYAN USA joins over 12 million undocumented immigrants across United States in struggling for full legalization, workers rights, family reunification, and genuine comprehensive immigration reform. We do so also in celebration of May 1st, the genuine international labor day that has been banned by the US government because of its historical roots in the struggle for socialism.

It was the fighting spirit of oppressed and multi-racial immigrant workers that brought May 1st back to the US streets in 2006, when the immigrant rights movement successfully launched the largest mobilizations in US history to stop the movement of House Resolution (H.R.) 4437, an oppressive bill that sought to criminalize undocumented workers in the US. Today, the momentum of the immigrant workers movement continues the revolutionary tradition of upholding May Day on the streets in the US as Immigrant Workers Day.

Since then, conditions for immigrant workers have changed very little, and in many ways they have worsened. There are more and more immigrants losing their status every day and becoming undocumented. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has only intensified its role as the state apparatus to terrorize immigrants across the US, without any regard for human rights doctrines nor the US Constitution. Every day, ICE raids and random checkpoints terrorize and split immigrant families and violate their basic human rights. Detentions and deportations are also on the rise.

The main reason why there is forced global migration, the US-led neoliberal trade system, has also intensified and increased what was once global joblessness to global food crisis and food insecurity. Under this framework of global poverty, migration is becoming more of a necessity for the basic survival of populations.

Many Filipinos, like Mexicans and other nationalities, come to the US through family sponsorship. The senseless bureaucracy of the immigration system is so inefficient, that it requires family sponsors to wait up to 20 years for their loved ones to get a visa to come to the US. An immigration backlog gathers dust in Washington DC while the fates of millions of families depend on the snail’s pace of the US Homeland Security Department to trudge through it.

But while the state’s media machinery seeks to demonize immigrants as “dirty” and “unwanted”, and distort public opinion about them, the truth about the positive role immigrants play in this country is seldom promoted.

Immigrants contribute richly to the social and economic fabric of the United States. Aside from paying taxes and not availing of social services, or taking on jobs most US citizens shun, immigrants care for our children, our elderly, construct our buildings, plant our food, grow our gardens, and maintain our homes. Without them, our society would fail to function.

The US business sector thrives on cheap labor. That is why they seek immigrants. Knowing that most immigrants would choose to work for low wages under unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the US over a life of poverty in their countries of origin, capitalists take advantage of their desperation by driving down workers’ wages and stripping them of rights and benefits. This ensures that the capitalist turns in higher profits year after year, at the cost of human dignity for immigrant workers. From this framework arises a modern-day slave class in the US.

Every day, over 3000 Filipinos leave the Philippines for a chance at giving their loved ones the promise of food, clothing, and shelter. Most Filipinos aim to come to the United States, where they are the second largest immigrant population, and have actually been migrating to the US since the Spanish Galleon trade of the 15th century. Because so many Filipinos and other nationalities leave to come to the US, the US has become the number one labor-hosting country.

By seeking to make migration harder and more xenophobic for incoming immigrants through bureaucracy and criminalization, the US government is shooting itself in the foot.
The demand for enter the US will not stop for as long as US foreign policy seeks to denationalize and destabilize foreign economies to its advantage.The US government is often assisted by puppet governments that carry its interventionist agenda in developing countries overseas.

In this Philippines, this is best exemplified by the ineptitude of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government, which espouses the Marcos-initiated Labor Export Policy (LEP) of 1974 as the main resolution to the debt crisis in the Philippines. By choosing to export its human and natural resources over genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, the Philippines is now one of the top three labor exporting countries in the world, with the most-remittance dependent economy. It also remains a heavily-impoverished nation with no plausible prospect of reaching first world status any time in the future, despite the claims of the Arroyo government.

Here in the US, more and more Filipino immigrants are falling victim to raids, detentions, deportations, family disunity, lack of social services, and lack of civil and human rights. That is why on this Immigrant Workers Day, Filipinos will be joining our fellow immigrant sisters and brothers in demanding changes in the US immigration system and an end to neoliberal globalization that perpetuates forced migration to the US.