Following the groundbreaking signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippine Consulate General New York and Damayan Migrant Workers Association on October 2nd, Damayan and the Consulate kicked off the new partnership with an Immigration Know Your Rights event on November 4th. The training was held at the Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center at the New York Philippine Consulate and sought to provide comprehensive and practical training for protecting yourself when detained or facing deportation proceedings.
The event began with opening remarks from Consul General Maria Theresa De Vega, who noted that the training was the first event between the Philippine Consulate and Damayan. The training included presentations Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, Damayan and the Mayor’s Office on Immigrant Affairs. Following the presentations and lunch, attendees were invited to meet with lawyers from the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) and other private practitioners, for free immigration consultations.
When speaking to the 70+ person crowd, Damayan’s Executive Director, Linda Oalican stated, “The Filipino government has taken the important step in recognizing the importance of Filipino undocumented workers.” Linda went onto say that training was the chance, “to put the spotlight on the undocumented Filipino migrant domestic workers and other low wage undocumented workers, the workforce that has been working in the shadows of the city. This is the moment to recognize them and reclaim the dignity and respect for these workers.” The event was a successful start to the new partnership, recognizing worker power and the validity of Damayan in representing workers. The next task will be creating the Anti-Trafficking Working Group.