Filipinos Join May Day Immigration Rally

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Pat Sampan, a native of Southern Leyte in the Philippines, is still waiting for the visa of her child so her child can come to the United States.

As a result, even if she is already 83 years old, she decided to volunteer to carry the banner of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrants Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) during the May Day Immigration rally last Wednesday even if there was prediction of a rainy weather.

“Hindi naman ako napapagod kasi gusto ko lang na makarating na rito ang aking anak,”
(I am not really tired walking for as long as this will help my child come over here.), according to Sampan, now a long-time resident of Chicago, Illinois, who walked three miles from Union Park at the intersection of South Ashland corner of Lake Street in the west side of Chicago to the Federal Plaza at 230 South Dearborn in the heart of Chicago.

She was one of the dozens of Filipinos, who joined thousands of marchers, who clamored for the  passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
Jerry B. Clarito, Executive Director of AFIRE, said, this rally “is really a wonderful time for immigrants to come out and push for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, respecting family and the workers rights.” AFIRE Board President Angela “Ging” Mascarenas led the other officers and volunteers at the rally.

Several volunteers and members of the Filipino community gathered at noon at the headquarters of AFIRE at 7315 N. Western Avenue in far north of Chicago and took lunch of “goto” (Filipino Congee) courtesy of Adeline’s Food of suburban Skokie, Illinois before proceeding to Union Park.

In encouraging the community to join, AFIRE sent out word during the past two weeks, using a pun in word: “This is AFIRE’s message to Fil Ams – This is the time to “GOTO” the May 1st Rally.”

The march rally started at about 2:30 p.m. and ended up at the Federal Plaza at 230 South Dearborn in Chicago’s downtown at about 4 p.m.
Among the speakers at the rally were Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez and officers of the ICIRR led by Executive Director Filipino American Lawrence Benito and Alie Kaaba, board President, United African Organizations.

CIR COMMITTEE HEARING NEXT WEEK

In brief remarks, Senator Durbin said the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform that he and other members of the Gang Of Eight crafted is up for hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee “a week from tomorrow,” saying he will see to it that the proposals that he is going present will safeguard “family reunification, fair treatment of all U.S. citizens. We cannot miss this opportunity. We should stand together, work together, pray together, sing together and gather together for America’s future.”

He said under proposed bill, individuals who have received final orders of deportations are still eligible to become legal and U.S. citizens. Senator Durbin added, even immigrants, who left the country illegally, can still be legal and become U.S. citizens.

“For the first time, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform will provide a waiver that will allow individuals, who were deported, to still become U.S. Citizens,” Durbin explained, saying this will enable to “reunite families torn apart. We want fathers, mothers and children to come home to America.”

Senator Durbin said, “Now we need you to stand here together with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, when it comes to equal opportunity in immigration, it extends to everyone, black, white, brown, women, gay, straight, lgtb, all with this opportunity. When this is passed, you still need to work hard and at the end of it and become American citizens voting, living without fear for the same dreams like my mother, my father and my grandparents.”

Aside from Senator Durbin, the other members of the Gang of Eight are Senators Robert Menendez [D-NJ], Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.], Michael Bennet [D-Colo.], Marco Rubio [R-FL], Jeff Flake [R-ARIZ.], John McCain [R-ARIZ.] and Lindsey Graham [R-S.C.].

Among those who also spoke at the rally was Tuyet Le, Executive Director of the Asian American Institute.  Le said it was her brother, who sacrificed so that her family from Vietnam was able to come to the United States. She quoted the letter of Martin Luther King on its 50th anniversary on breaking the laws that are unjust and obeying others laws that are just.

Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas,  King said, “an unjust law is a human law not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts the personality is a just law. Any law that degrades the human being is unjust law.”

Ms. Le added, the comprehensive immigration reform that is needed is one that is “expansive and inclusive that protects workers and the values. We should thank the previous generations, who did not close the doors on us, like my uncle, who gave us the courage to fight.”

The other speakers include leaders of various cross-section of the community, including religious and labor representatives.

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PHOTO CAPTION:

OLDEST MARCHER: Pat Sampan (extreme right) holds the banner of AFIRE (Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrants Rights and Empowerment) during the May Day Immigration rally last Wednesday despite prediction of a rainy weather. Ms. Sampan said she just wants Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform so that her child, who is still in the Philippines, can reunite with her. Photo shows to her right are Philip Rence and Jimmy Reyes. (FAXX/jGLi Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

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