New York– In a press conference held on the steps of New York City Hall yesterday, the militant Filipino-American alliance known as BAYAN USA joined over 30 African-American trade unionists, New York City Councilman Charles Barron, and immigrant leaders in expressing firm worker solidarity with the massive tide of immigrants rights demonstrations demanding comprehensive immigration reforms from the US Congress.
“We workers, particularly black workers and trade unionists fighting a racist and exploitative system against all working people in the US, are in full solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers who are actively steering what is evidently a new civil rights movement,” stated Larry Holmes of the International Action Center.
“We fully understand and embrace that the struggle of our immigrant sisters and brothers is not separate from the struggle of all working people, and we will not let ourselves be divided, by those in power who will opportunistically use the power of the immigrant rights movement to pit black worker against brown worker. Immigrant rights are worker rights.” Holmes continued.
NY City Councilman and black nationalist activist Charles Barron also acknowledged that the American working people understand that it is the onerous economic policies of the US government with other countries such as the Philippines that causes forced migration of peoples in the first place.
Speaking from the Filipino community, BAYAN USA representative Berna Ellorin affirmed Barron’s statement by pointing out that the Arroyo government’s subservience to US economic dictates over the Filipino people’s interests sets the condition that pushes at least 3000 Filipinos abroad to find work abroad because of rampant joblessness and non-industrialization in the Philippines.
“For most immigrants it was never a matter of choice to migrate. It is a matter of survival. Now that we are here, and sustaining the Philippine economy with our remittances, our struggle as immigrants to reform the racist and anti-migrant US immigration system cannot be separated from the struggle of all working people of color. As immigrants, we are also fighting for what Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X were fighting for– basic civil rights,” Ellorin stated.
Among the demands supported by speakers were legalization, not criminalization of undocumented workers, swift family reunification for immigrant families, full workers rights and protection for immigrants, and no to enforcement-type immigration legislation.
The Congressional debate on immigration reform is currently ongoing amidst pressure from immigrant groups in massive outpouring on the streets. A nationally-coordinated immigrant rights rally last April 10th gathered over 250,000 alone in Manhattan and millions more in other US cities. Immigrant groups have signified the demonstrations will only escalate.
Other speakers included black labor unionists Brenda Stokely and Chris Silvera of the Million Worker March.
BAYAN USA and the Million Worker March also openly supported the call for an immigrant and worker rights demonstration on Monday, May 1st, 4pm at Union Square Park, as an extension of the storm of protests that has erupted across US cities.
“In countries around the world, May 1 is traditionally a day of action as international workers day. This May 1st, immigrants and workers will affirm this tradition in New York City,” Ellorin ended.
As a member of the NY May 1 Coalition Steering Committee, BAYAN USA and other Filipino organizations are organizing a Filipino contingent. For more information, send an email to the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines at nychrp @ yahoo.com ###
Images of the press conference available at www.maniwalaya.org/images/bayanusa/index.htm
Kawal Ulanday, Chair, BAYAN USA, email: chair @ bayanusa.org;
Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN USA, email: mc @ bayanusa.org