Jersey City – Trafficking survivors, immigrant workers and activists announced the formation of Migrante New Jersey at the formal launching at Saint Peter’s University last Sunday, October 2. The launching was themed “Bangon Migrante!” or Rise-up Migrants! The event was attended by close to a hundred allies, community members and family members.
Yves Nibungco, an organizer with Migrante New Jersey, presented a situationer of Filipino immigrant workers in New Jersey. “Filipino immigrant workers continue to face various injustices in the Garden State. Labor trafficking, wage theft, lack of decent pay and family separation are just a few issues that afflict our kababayans,” said Nibungco. “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. Filipino immigrant workers must organize to ensure a bright future for our families,” Nibungco added.
“Death of a family member, having a broken family and separation of husband and wife are becoming a part of the unwritten contract as a Migrant Worker. Being in another country is always a gamble. Almost like playing a card game. Magkamali ka ng balasa, next thing you know ikaw na ung nasa kahon,” said Cecil Delgado, a labor trafficking survivor, in her moving speech on the struggles as a Filipino immigrant worker and as a mother. “Labor export policy separated us, but fighting the system brought us back together.” Delgado said referring to her eventual reunification with her son.
“Our collective effort and our decision to put our actions together brought us to where we are now, to be with our families, to be free and fearless. It has brought us to stand up in front of you and tell you that, you, migrants are not alone. That all Migrants could make a difference and be a part of the change!” said Delgado.
Another highlight of the event was the presentation of Migrante New Jersey’s first set of officers. Nick Cordero as the Chairperson; Michael Aznar as the Vice Chairperson; Doni Manuel as the Secretary General; Cecil Delgado as the Deputy Secretary General; Yancy Gandionco as the Education Officer, Mars Escobido as the Finance Officer and Cris Alda as the Deputy Finance Officer. Statements of support from various Migrante chapters across the United States capped the launching.
History of Migrante New Jersey
Migrante New Jersey was formerly known as the Filipino Immigrants and Workers Organizing Project (FIWOP). It was formed on January of 2015 after a community forum on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Attendees of the community forum saw the need for an organization of Filipino immigrant workers who will protect and advance the rights and welfare of our kababayans in New Jersey. Since then, FIWOP has organized various activities to educate, organize and mobilize the Filipino community into addressing issues affecting Filipino immigrant workers. On June 24, 2016, FIWOP members decided to change the name of the organization into Migrante New Jersey. Migrante New Jersey is an official chapter of Migrante International, a global alliance of organizations of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families.