NEW YORK – Waving placards and chanting slogans, immigrants, including Filipinos, rallied in Lower Manhattan Monday, March 11, to push for legalization of undocumented immigrants. It was billed as the National Day of Action Against Deportations.
In passionate speeches, immigrants from multi-cultural groups derided the government for deporting 1.5 million undocumented immigrants from 2008 to 2012. The Obama administration was also criticized for spending $18 billion to imprison and deport illegal immigrants. The immigrants are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform that would lead to a path of citizenship.
Filipino immigrant leader Hanalei Ramos said deportations must be stopped. “We are concerned on the way immigrants are penalized and criminalized in this country,” Ramos said.
The Migrant Power Alliance, the umbrella of many immigrant groups, demands an accessible, full-path to citizenship and that all families that are separated due to these hearings and processes are united now. Many of the immigrants are living under the shadow of suffering and fear. Although they contribute to the economy through their hard work, and many pay taxes, they are afraid of being arrested and deported.
In an emotional appeal to President Obama, Filipina Annabelle Sibayan said the President should understand how difficult it is to be separated from family. She related how she was detained, including her husband when their temporary work visa expired. They still attend hearings to justify their stay in the U.S. and to stop their deportation. Sibayan was also a human trafficking victim and has been granted a work permit by the USCIS. But deportation charge remains in effect.
Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, senators are discussing a bipartisan immigration bill that may likely ditch the idea of requiring a new high-tech federal identity card for workers because it is too expensive.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is worried on higher cost of biometric ID card. The card is aimed as a way to ensure employers don’t hire illegal workers. Graham and his backers are planning to expand the existing E-Verify system so employers can monitor the legal status of their prospective workers.
However, E-Verify system is ineffective at this time and has to be upgraded nationally. E-Verify permits employers to electronically submit prospective hires Social Security numbers or to be double-checked against government databases
Graham and Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, from New York, are both members of the bipartisan Senate immigration-negotiating group. They were pushing for biometric ID that can use fingerprints of workers for effective checking of their immigration status. They are also pushing for their proposals to legalize 11 million undocumented workers, at the same time, securing the border. An immigration bill is expected to be finalized in April.