[Op-Ed: On Immigration Reform]
In the face of an inefficient and outdated US immigration system awaiting reform in Congress this year, immigrant rights groups intensify their efforts to educate and organize their communities towards the continuing fight for genuine comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).
While senate celebrates S744, or Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, touted as a shining product of bipartisan collaboration, immigrant communities are gearing up for the compromising road ahead.
The bill, in its current form, will divide immigrant communities, further criminalize immigrants, significantly increase government spending on border enforcement and militarization, and perpetuate exploitation of foreign workers through guest worker programs.
There are 4 million Filipinos in the US; an estimated 1 million are undocumented. Filipinos are among the fastest growing Asian immigrant group in the country. Like most Asian Americans, Filipinos enter the US through visas, which grant them temporary legal status.
Those who enter through employment-based petitions (H1B, H2) and their families have access to a path to citizenship. However, these processes take at least 10 years and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, employment-based petitions put workers at higher risk for exploitation, labor trafficking, and going out of status through no fault of their own. Such had been the case for the Florida 15, PG County Filipino Teachers, GIS Filipino Workers, Miami 161, among others.
Immigrants from Asia, South America, Africa, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe are united by the need to survive abroad in order to provide for their basic needs and those of their families because their native countries cannot support them. For centuries, the US has looked to these continents for cheap labor. It is time that we change the course of history.
Immigrants in the US must consistently push for legislation that caters to their immediate needs, and not those of corporations, which would benefit the most in border militarization, e-verify and immigrant detention.
Federal immigration policy must address issues that go beyond national security and maximizing profit– protection is due for the rights of immigrants as workers, families, students and human beings who significantly contribute to the wealth of the United States and their home countries.