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Senate debate outcome a result of diligent peoples struggle; Filipinos in US must stay vigilant, push for more comprehensive immigration reforms

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New York–Filipinos in New York urged their compatriots, allies, and supporters to “stay vigilant” as the Congressional debate ensues after the Senate Judiciary Committee finally decided on a definitive immigration bill yesterday for the Senate floor. The amended Senate bill was marked with significant deletions from the Lower House’s controversial Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437), now excluding the widely-condemned criminalization clause of undocumented persons and those who assist them, and including a temporary guest-worker program.

“This is proving that legislators have no choice but to heed the tremendous pressure coming from the movement of immigrants and their supporters on the streets, as exemplified by the massive turn-out of protest actions in Los Angeles, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Washington DC. While these provisional shifts in the Senate bill mark genuine progress, we cannot be short-sighted in our victory. Now is the critical time to keep the immigrant movement on the streets strong as ever as the legislative process continues through the Senate vote to the White House. No provisional amendment is guaranteed to stay intact unless the pressure from the people stays on,” stated Henry Soliveres of the local Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition (J4I).

J4I, comprised of concerned Filipino organizations and individuals in New York and neighboring areas, has been at the forefront of organizing initiatives in the Filipino community against the Sensenbrenner Bill when it passed the House vote last December, helming two largely-attended townhall meetings in the bill in the last 3 months. J4I is also garnering more critical action from Filipinos demanding earned legalization, swift family reunification and an end to criminalization and deportation of immigrants.

“This is not the time to rest. Filipinos, as one of the largest immigrant communities in the US, must participate in the ongoing national movement for more comprehensive immigration legislation reforms. This is a battle for our own human and civil rights,” stated Shirley Cayugan of the Philippine Forum.

In line with the nationwide actions mounted for immigration reforms, J4I is holding a special PAGTITIPON PARA SA LEGALISASYON, or an important public community gathering on Sunday, April 2, along Roosevelt Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets in Jackson Heights, Queens. The program will start at 9:30am with a KAPIHAN (Coffee break) in Perlas Ng Silangan Restaurant, where immigration specialists and lawyers will discuss the latest updates from the Congressional deliberations on immigration legislation, then move outdoors to a public gathering along the sidewalk starting at 11am. A noise barrage for legalization is scheduled from 12noon to 12:15pm.

Several Filipino business-owners from restaurants such as Perlas Ng Silangan, Ihawan, Krystal’s, Renee’s Kitchenette and others have already committed to participating in the street gathering and will donate refreshments for the people’s assembly.

Members of J4I include Philippine Forum, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Anakbayan Filipino Youth, Kinding Sindaw Cultural Troupe, Migrante International, Movement for a Free Philippines, Sandiwa Filipino Youth, and the Critical Filipino/Filipina Studies Collective. All Filipino organizations, groups, and community members are encouraged to join.

A sign-making party for the Roosevelt gathering is scheduled on Friday, March 31st, 5pm at the Philippine Forum Office, 54-05 Seabury Street in Elmhurst, Queens. For trains, take the V/G/R to the Grand Street Newtown stop. The Philippine Forum office is located on the basement of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown. For more info, call Philippine Forum at 718.565.8862.

References: Henry Soliveres, Spokesperson, Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition (J4I) and
Robert Roy, Executive Director, Philippine Forum, email: