San Francisco - The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) strongly condemns the Obama administration for its recent raids that have targeted Central American families who fled violence in their home countries. Implementing the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) established in November 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have reportedly detained over 120 individuals for deportation as of January 4th. As a member of the International Migrants Alliance, and along with many other immigrant advocates, legislators, and community organizations across the US, NAFCON demands that ICE and DHS cease the raids and deportations.
Inhumane raids and deportations will not stop parents and children from desperately leaving horrific conditions in underdeveloped countries. Migrants and refugees are forced to leave due to poverty, violence, and joblessness in their home countries so these are the issues that must be addressed. These underdeveloped nations have had their economies ravaged by unequal trade policies, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and now, with policies such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) led by the US that target the Asia Pacific region. It is only with building a sustainable economy that meets people’s basic needs and allows them to live with dignity, free from plunder and displacement by multinational corporations and the unequal trade agreements imposed by more powerful countries, that forced migration from underdeveloped countries will cease.
The exploitation of im/migrant workers is a pattern throughout the history of the US, from the time Mexican laborers were brought to the US via the Bracero program to the current labor trafficking of Filipino workers. While conservatives have painted im/migrants as a horde invading the United States, taking away jobs and using up benefits, NAFCON believes that it has been im/migrants who are victimized many times over. The resources of their home countries are used for corporate profits and not for the needs of the people. Their labor is then exploited in host countries as “cheap labor”, and then they face discrimination and criminalization just for wanting to provide for their families and to live a life with dignity. The true culprit of forced migration has been corporate greed, collaborating with elitist and oppressive state governments.
Statements that rejoice in the violation of human rights, such as the one that Donald Trump has made regarding the raids, are unconscionable. It is a human right to work, to have an adequate standard of living, physical and mental health, and safety and security. To promote a personal political agenda in this election year by trivializing the collective trauma of thousands of mothers and children fleeing violence is not just irresponsible. It’s contemptible.
It has only been through the hopeful perseverance of community organizing that im/migrants have been able to win victories, from the time of the failed anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill in 2006, to the present momentum that moved President Obama to take decisive action in the 2012 executive action that gave some undocumented immigrants temporary reprieve from deportations and allowed them to work.
As a member of the grassroots migrant movement under the banner of the International Migrants Alliance, NAFCON calls on the Filipino community to stand in solidarity with other immigrant and refugee communities. We demand that the Obama administration ends its Priority Enforcement Program and stops the raids and deportation of Central American families.