FilAm youth form coalition vs Trump policies

Community News & Features Feb 9, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Community members pose for post-event picturesNEW YORK–Filipino community in New York and New Jersey came together on Saturday, January 20, 2018, to launch the Filipino American Organizations for Community, Unity, and Safety (FOCUS) coalition, at St. Francis of Assisi. It was convened by the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), The Migrant Center of St. Francis of Assisi, Migrante, Pilipino American Unity for Progress (Unipro), JCI Queens, and Basilia Women Foundation in response to various anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration.

Donald Trump marks the first year of his presidency with numerous policies and executive orders attacking immigrants and refugees.  From the Muslim ban, to the increased raids and detention of immigrants, including the recent 7-Eleven raids, the Trump administration has spread a climate of terror in the immigrant community.

However, attendees of the FOCUS launch discussed how countries, such as the U.S., are complicit in violating the human rights of immigrants and forcing immigration from the global south.  The U.S. has historically created economic state policies that have plundered resources of countries, such as the Philippines.  The lack of sovereignty of Filipinos over their resources, and the ability to build industries around these resources has kept the Philippine economy in constant crisis, with underemployment and unemployment driving labor export into the First World.  The U.S. takes advantage of the cheaper labor, and recruits, only as the US economy needs, with little regard to the rights and welfare of the migrant workers.  For instance, in spite of the heightened raids, detention, and deportation, the Trump administration has raised the caps on temporary work visas, to increase the flow of cheap temporary workers into the U.S., while at the same time, attacking policies on family reunification or temporary protected status.

The Trump Administration is determined to choke the rights of migrants, cut off any pathways to citizenship or legal residence, but profit from migrant labor.  This puts migrants and refugees in positions of being further exploited, as temporary work visas make it extremely difficult for migrants to negotiate for better conditions.

Julie Jamora of GABRIELA New York shared her experiences of visiting Filipino detainees. “The conditions are horrible, there is little sunlight, you are forced to do labor for $1 per day, and detainees are being asked to sign their rights away, by allowing themselves to be deported.”

Other community members also shared their experiences in the launch. Noel Aglubat of Pilipino American Unity for Progress (Unipro) said about the launch, “It’s inspiring and validating to hear different Filipino organizations commit to defending migrant rights.  Even more so now, during the Trump Administration, when those rights are the most vulnerable.”

The FOCUS launch event is the beginning of a sustained effort to protect migrant and diasporic communities at the height of the Trump era. If you or your organization are interested in joining FOCUS, contact us at