For Immediate Release
August 10, 2017
Reference: Rodrigo Bacus
NAFCON OPPOSES TRUMP’S ANTI-MIGRANT AND ANTI-REFUGEE ATTACKS
New York, NY – The Trump administration has orchestrated a series of attacks against immigrants, so that private companies can profit further from their cheap labor while at the same time, limiting their pathways to become legal residents in the U.S. NAFCON opposes these attacks and is organizing to defend migrant workers and oppressed people resisting his administration.
On July 17, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) raised the limit for H-2B temporary work visas granted from 66,000 visas to 81,000. DHS reasoned that they lifted the caps on H-2B visas to assist businesses who could not find workers to fill available jobs.
Despite this increase in work-related, pro-business visas, Trump’s campaign platform and his overarching framework for immigration reform reveals his anti-immigrant and anti-people policy objectives.
On August 2, Trump backed an immigration overhaul bill that would cut pathways for migration to the U.S. by 50% over 10 years, including: ending the visa lottery program, curbing the number of refugees offered permanent residency by less than half, and ending the green card preference to extended family of immigrants residing legally in the US.
In the meantime, legislators creating this bill have excluded temporary guest workers from the scope of the bill, clearly indicating the direction of the administration in further exploiting foreign workers, without giving them protections or benefits.
Effectively, the shift in immigration priorities exacerbates the condition of migrant workers as sources of cheap labor. Migrant workers, many of whom are Filipinos, will effectively be limited to working as cooks, cleaners, pool attendants, and receptionists in hotels and restaurants. They will have less avenues to reunite with families and gain permanent residence.
Moreover, temporary visa workers have very little power over their recruiters and employers, exposing many of them to labor trafficking. The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) have conducted several campaigns to expose the link between temporary visa workers and trafficking, successfully defending the rights of the Sentosa 27++, the Florida 15, the GIS Filipino oil rig workers, hotel workers, bakery workers, teachers, domestic workers and so many others.
The administration seems keen on expanding immigration programs that are known to be breeding grounds for trafficking while curtailing the ability of people to assert their rights and defend themselves against that exploitation.
The legislative branch has been able to pass some reforms that are supportive of migrants rights, such as the reauthorization of the Trafficked Victims Protection Act. However, such reforms are modest and do not address the fundamental problems of migration: the exploitation of migrant workers through temporary visas and the pressure that big business places on countries of origin like the Philippines to keep the people poor, jobless, landless, and migrating.
Gary Labao, Program Coordinator of Mission to End Modern Slavery (MEMS), says that “the TVPA overemphasizes sex trafficking instead of all forms of labor trafficking. There has been no effort to raise the cap on T-Visas despite the increase on temporary work visas. Migrant workers are at higher risk of trafficking through the temporary work visa program. The Department of State has yet to focus on labor rights, perpetuating the lack of awareness about human trafficking and the overall system that preserves it. Traffickers continue to escape prosecution and accountability under this law.”
Although NAFCON welcomes further reforms to immigration policy, more must be done to ensure that the rights of migrant workers are protected. The welfare of migrant workers and oppressed people should not depend on who the 1% thinks is deserving of its protection.
Zarah Vinola, NAFCON Secretary of Campaigns, declares, “NAFCON opposes a policy of economic development that rips families apart while allowing big business to obtain slave labor, in the form of the temporary guest worker program. NAFCON has long recognized that, for developing nations, the model of development by labor export is no solution to poverty. The Philippines can build a self-sustaining economy, freed from exploitative foreign trade policies to provide real solutions to the root causes of the problems of forced migration and trafficking.”
She also relates that, “meanwhile, workers in the U.S. can unite on resisting fascist attacks on workers, and clamor for taxpayer money to be spent for the people, not on occupations overseas. While corporations have enjoyed bailouts, workers in the U.S. have had to contend with rising cost of living, underemployment or unemployment, and seeing education, social and health services become privatized.”
NAFCON calls on Filipinos in the US to join in ending labor export policy in the Philippines and to resist the further exploitation of workers in the U.S. for the profit of the 1%, by organizing themselves and joining with other migrants and workers. Join our campaign to protect and defend migrant workers – Filipino Organizations for Community, Unity, and Safety (FOCUS).
#FOCUS #NAFCON #EndLaborExportPolicy
NAFCON is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. At present, NAFCON members encompass over 23 cities in the United States and is an active member of the International Migrants Alliance.