“Today, as we commemorate the 17th year of International Migrants Day, let us remember all migrants from different parts of the globe who are forced to flee their homes and their countries for urgent need and survival. Let us remember that every person deserved a free and dignified life, and so the migrants and refugees,“
– Fr. Herbert Fadriquela Jr. Chairperson, Migrante Europe
While many people, the global elite and the privileged are enjoying the freedom of movement, but not for millions of people who are daily facing discrimination, inhumane labor condition, anti-migrants and anti-people policies not just from their host countries but from the countries of their origin.
With Donald Trump’s policy of fear against immigrants in the United States, as his critics described it as cruel and unconstitutional, about 800,000 young immigrants future are in uncertainties. Mr. Trump’s deporting criminals is in his top priority list. The Trump government definitions of criminals are undocumented workers and their families, students, and simple people who used to have normal daily lives, but now, under Trump’s government, their normal lives and dreams were shuttered and much worse, if you are a Muslim, any moment you will be suspected or accused as security threats.
How is EU coping with migration and refugees, after the tragedy in Lampedusa with 359 confirmed deaths when the boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank in the said island? With unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees in 2015 and 2016, today European Union intensified efforts to prevent African migrants from traveling north. In Italy, with the blessing of European Union, Italy is off shoring its Mediterranean migration problem to Libya. In spite of reported cooperation funding and investment of millions of Euros to improve conditions in Libyan camp, the migrant detention center at Abu Salim is reportedly horrifying and degrading. Detainees are subjected to forced labor, beatings, torture and rape.
While in other parts of Europe, the ongoing refugee crisis and attacks by armed extremists in Belgium, France, and Germany reinforced xenophobic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment, manifest in attacks on Muslims, migrants and even members of advocacy groups and activists in many EU states.
After the deadly attack in France in 2015, President Francois Hollande declared the state of emergency; it was renewed and extended until July 2017. Under the emergency law, police carried out almost 4,000 warrantless raids, and placed 400 people under house arrests. Mostly targeted were Muslims and led to abuses of the rights to liberty, privacy, freedom of movement, and discrimination.
In the United Kingdom, after Brexit, Britain intends to approach the politically charged issue of immigration, dramatically refocusing policy to put British workers first. The determination to end free movement to skilled EU migration, end the role of the European court of justice in family migration and may create a hostile environment for long-term EU migrants without residence permits.
As of April 2017, the number of overseas Filipinos abroad was estimated at 2.2 million, excluding undocumented workers, which are doubled in number.
The Philippine government has long lauded the fact that, every day, some 6,000 Filipinos are sent abroad to work. The remittances they send back keep the Philippine economy afloat. Instead of addressing poverty or lack of jobs at home, the government continues to implement the corrupt Labor Export Policy (LEP) in connivance with the host governments like the United States and other countries to maintain a steadily increasing flow of cheap, temporary migrant labor.
Exorbitant fees to OFWs are just unnecessary like the mandatory Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The Duterte government had promised to scrap OEC and instead to issue an iDOLE or OFW card to be granted free of charge. But in reality is not really free and does not really replace the OEC.
In Clark International Airport, the collection of 600 pesos terminal fee to OFWs continues, in spite the fact that DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello issued an order for travel tax and terminal fees exemption to OFWs; lamented Migrante Firenze Chair. Richard Torres Garcia.
Events and protest on International Migrants Day in Europe
Amidst of ongoing political repression and threats against migrants, no state forces succeed in blocking the courageous migrants on the streets to shout, to protests, to resist and to fight for their fundamental rights.
Last Saturday, December 16, the Umangat Migrante and Gabriela Rome members joined the march of thousands of migrants in Italy that paralyzed the usual busy traffic of the city of Rome. Outrages migrants carried the placards and banners calling for the rights of migrants
without borders, right to citizenship of children born in Italy, a general amnesty and regularization of undocumented migrants.
In the United Kingdom yesterday, OFWs led by Filipino Domestic Workers Association (FDWA) gathered and call to stop the criminalization of undocumented migrants, and reminded politician and governments that migrants are people and not commodities.
The exodus of people from poorest countries to overseas, particularly Filipinos will rapidly increase as long as the root causes of forced migration remain unsolved, if national industrialization is just an unfulfilled promise, and if the future of the country is being handed to foreign capitalists.
Migrants of the world unite, resist and fight!
Stop exploitation and commodification of migrant workers!
Trabaho sa Pilipinas, hindi sa labas ng bansa!
Fr. Herbert Fadriquela Jr.
Chairperson, Migrante Europe
Anglican Chaplain for the Filipino Community
Diocese of Leicester UK
Mobile: +44 7456 042156