NAFCON Affirms its Commitment to Stand With All Filipino Migrants on International Migrants Day
18 December 2011
Contact: Terry Valen
More than four thousand Filipinos leave the Philippines everyday in search of work to support themselves and their families. Most often, the costs of emigrating totals over several thousands of dollars including airfare, government fees, and at times, payments to recruiters who promise assistance in finding work, training and obtaining the appropriate legal documentation.
Many Filipinos leave the Philippines, arrive in the U.S. and consider themselves lucky believing in the promise of greater opportunity and better work conditions associated with the mystique of the “American Dream.” Yet day by day, stories of Filipinos encountering horrifying experiences chasing this “American Dream” surface, highlighting a major problem facing migrants.
One example is the story of the Florida 15, a group of Filipino workers recruited by Sun Villa Ship Management Co. in Manila to work as hotel housekeepers in Florida. After paying exorbitant fees up to $300,000, they arrived in Florida where no jobs were available for them. In addition their visa and extensions were kept from them making them unable to renew their immigration papers on time resulting in their loss of legal status.
Migrants Struggle Throughout the U.S. and the World
Tragic experiences of Filipino migrants like the Florida 15, that are victims of scams, exploitation, and/or mistreatment are widespread throughout the world and particularly in the U.S. Many of them also end up undocumented, unemployed, indebted and desperately seeking ways to support their families back home.
Examples of these experiences include many who the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) support in their struggles for justice such as the Sentosa 27++ in New York, the Adman 11 in Los Angeles, the Arizona 34, the hundreds of teachers in Prince George County, Maryland, the over 12,000 workers in the Northern Marianas Islands and the countless Filipino caregivers and domestic workers facing slave-like work conditions and wage theft whose stories are still left untold.
Root Causes of the Migrants Struggle
“At the root of the problem is the Philippine Government and its continuation of the Labor Export Program (LEP) which generates millions in remittances that band aid a bleeding economy. There is also the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), a department under the Philippine government, allowing recruitment agencies to actively participate in trafficking Filipino people,” says Terry Valen, NAFCON President.
A particular example that substantiates Valen’s implication of the POEA’s role in human trafficking is the case of the Los Angeles Adman 11 where the agency involved was a government-registered and authorized recruitment entity. One obvious motive for government officials to look the other way or act in collusion is of course the profitability and payback of providing low cost and easily exploitable labor to U.S. based businesses.
NAFCON Stands With Migrants
To combat the widespread issues that face Filipino migrants both in the U.S. and throughout the world, NAFCON actively organizes migrants and campaigns to expose the failure of the Philippine government to deal with the root causes of the migrant workers’ problems.
On one hand NAFCON calls on the government to scrap the LEP and instead focus on creating jobs at home through genuine industrialization by harnessing the vast abundance of natural resources in the Philippines.
On the other hand NAFCON calls on Aquino to crackdown on the POEA’s role in fostering human trafficking as well as increase the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) resources to better enable them to assist the hundreds of thousands of migrants in distress.
For Filipino migrants residing in the U.S., NAFCON affirms the basic human right of all people to keep their families united, earn a decent living, and work hard to support their loved ones regardless of immigration status. NAFCON stands behind the over one million undocumented migrant Filipinos in the U.S. and calls on the American government to provide “Legalization for All!”
“America should stop investing its efforts in breaking up families and criminalizing hard working Filipinos. Instead it should focus its attention on stopping the real criminals, both in the Philippines and in the U.S., who participate in human trafficking and wage exploitation,” continued Valen.
To honor and celebrate Filipino migrants on International Migrants Day, NAFCON will be hosting activities throughout the U.S. For more information on these activities please contact the various regional coordinators listed below.
Mabuhay ang Manggagawang Pilipino at Mabuhay ang Migranteng Pilipino!