Filipino-led organizations NAFFAA, AF3IRM, Malaya add their voices: return the children to their parents. There are about four million Filipino immigrants in the US, comprising the second largest Asian immigrants, second to the Chinese
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – On June 30, 2018, Filipino organizations have added their voices to the thousands who shout to end the continued incarceration of children and breaking apart of families at the US – Mexico border. At the rally on Foley Square in the city, thousands marched through Brooklyn Bridge and converged at Cadman Plaza underneath the summer sun’s sweltering heat. About 700 cities in the US have simultaneously conducted rallies to stop what is regarded as the most brutal immigration policy which Pres. Trump had so far created.
Related Link: Filipino groups say #notofamilyseparation
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NAFFAA) New York joined the rally to #endfamilyseparation. Laura Garcia, a nurse and educator in New York City and chair of the NAFFAA New York cited the health impact of separating small children from their parents.
“We are creating monsters, instead of leaders, when we separate children from their parents. They will suffer from depression, aggression, and all sorts of mental problems later on. As a mother, nurse, and educator, I ask the government to stop separating families at the border,” she said in an interview at the Foley Square.
NAFFAA is the largest organization of Filipino Americans in the US, whose presence have continuously grown as the second largest Asian population here, second to the Chinese. For the remainder of this year, it will engage in immigration policy advocacy and education at the community level, Garcia said.
Although Pres. Trump had signed an executive order to reverse the zero tolerance policy due to public uproar, community organizations, unions, and faith-based groups here said that the government has no specific plan for the reunification of families. There was also no clear tracking system for children who were forcibly stolen from their families, groups said.
To date, an estimated 2300 children were separated from their parents at makeshift shelters and foster homes. This family separation scheme was carried out by border patrol agents under Trump’s zero tolerance policy believed to deter people from crossing the border and entering the US.
Even the more conservative Filipinos like Consuelo Almonte are opposed to the separation of children from their parents. “I am against the separation of families. If the parents came here in an illegal way, we will just have to send them back together, not separate children from their families,” said Almonte, who is also part of the NAFFAA board of advisers.
In Jackson Heights in Queens, the international feminist group AF3IRM condemned the separation of families which they said was a US-sanctioned torture of mothers and children. The rallyists walked from 72nd Street to 104 Street to oppose Trump’s brutal separation of families.
In a press statement, AF3IRM has raised concern on where are the girls, at the time when sex trafficking at the borders is rampant. The ICE has admitted that it has lost thousands of children. “These children have been kidnapped by the US. We demand that these thousands of children be reunited with their families.”
Larry Goldbetter, chairperson of the National Writers Union, a nation-wide organization of freelance writers and journalists, said separation of families as a deterrence to people who cross the borders is so far Pres. Trump’s worse act. “It is brutal and inhumane,” he said.
Asked if Pres. Obama did the same policy but had not been given media attention, Goldbetter said during the Obama administration, deportations peaked. “He had deported thousands of undocumented immigrants. But families at the border were not forcibly torn apart,” he said.
In a statement, Goldbetter further asserted: “We do not welcome fascism, but we should not fear it! The odds are that things will get worse before they get better. And the truth is, they won’t get better until we make them better, mainly by bringing this fight to our unions, community organizations and houses of worship.”