The Call of the Times for Filipino Youth

By Chrissi Fabro, FINDink Contributor

On the morning of September 5th, I sat at my desk in my office job awaiting the Trump’s announcement regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Saddened to not be on the streets rallying alongside thousands of undocumented youth, their families, and allies, I decided to watch the actions live on Facebook.  As soon as I opened the video, a young woman, a DACA recipient, was crying on the bullhorn. I knew from that moment that DACA was repealed.

DACA is a program established through an executive action by the former President Barack Obama. It provided temporary relief to undocumented youth:  a 2 year protection from deportation and a work permit. DACA did not grant them a pathway to citizenship nor was it inclusive of their parents and families—which is entirely another conversation.

The repeal of DACA took all of that away. Despite this announcement, which now makes undocumented youth targets again for deportation and ICE raids, they refused "to go back into the shadows." Hundreds of undocumented youth, families, and supporters took to the streets outside Trump Tower to demand permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all 11 million undocumented people in this country. Completely led by undocumented youth and supported by their allies, about a dozen of them peacefully made their way to middle of the intersection outside the Trump Tower and, acknowledging the risks of arrest and deportation, sat down and held hands. Two of them,brother and sister, were people that I knew from community organizing.

It was an intense moment to watch. My heart raced for them as I listened to the sound of police sirens barge into the roar of chants.  The youth continued to sit on the street peacefully. The police came out of their vehicles and, one-by-one, arrested the whole line of youth. Supporters cheered them on and continued to chant "Undocumented and unafraid!"

Later that day, all of those arrested were released, undoubtedly from the pressure of supporters rallying outside as jail support.

I was extremely moved by the actions of these undocumented youth, who were so ready to put themselves at risk. Knowing the consequences, they conducted a civil disobedience action because there is nothing else that they could possibly lose in a country and its immigration system that refuses to recognize their humanity, a country that refuses to give them permanent protection, dignity, and respect, while benefits off of their exploited labor, while sends the military to bombs the countries from which they came in the first place.

The Impacts on Filipinos

There are more than four million Filipinos living in the United States with one million of them are undocumented.  Out of the four million, roughly 22 thousand were eligible to apply for DACA. With this, an estimated eight to ten thousand Filipino youth are directly affected by Trump’s termination of DACA.

Filipinos, like many migrants across the world, migrate for a better life for their families.  The conditions in the Philippines do not allow for our people to survive.  Many suffer poverty, landlessness, and lack of jobs or sufficient enough livelihood.  From the countrysides of the Philippines, farmers are forced to migrate to the cities to find work.  When they are unable to find work, they leave their families and migrate abroad.

Even while abroad, Filipino migrants continue to face exploitation.  The process of obtaining a job in other countries sometimes includes trafficking, and many workers do not realize they are being trafficked. If not trafficking, then wage theft and horrible working conditions.  Even with visas, the immigration system creates conditions for people to be trafficked.  There is barely support for migrant workers.  The cycle of exploitation continues until our communities are united to fight back.

The Call of the Times: Filipino Youth United for Change

Over the past several years, we have seen major attacks on marginalized communities. From Black Lives Matter against police brutality to Standing Rock fighting to protect and defend their indigenous people’s sacred lands to the ICE raids and deportations—we have seen people outraged by what injustices have plagued our world.  More recently, we have witnessed the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant communities with the Muslim ban and the repeal of DACA.

These times of injustice have awakened the consciousness of many youth across the country.  In all of these social movements that are arising from injustice, we have seen youth at the forefront fighting for a brighter future for our world, where our communities no longer must suffer.  The times call on youth to be united to change the world for the better.

Filipino youth all over the country have been responding to the burning issues of our times.  To come together and take collective action will only strengthen our power to push for positive changes in our communities.  We have seen Filipino youth march in solidarity for black lives and black power.  We have seen Filipino youth stand in solidarity with Standing Rock.  We have seen Filipino youth express their outrage over the Trump administration and take to the streets.  We have seen Filipino youth alongside undocumented youth fighting for genuine immigration reform.

To build more unity among Filipino youth all over the US to channel our energy to positive changes, the Kabataan Alliance will be launched on October 1, 2017 as the national Filipino youth alliance dedicated to collectively advancing the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the US and abroad.  I encourage all youth to take part in this historical launch of the alliance It is only through engaging in collective action that youth are able to grow into the leaders that this world needs.

 

Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.