Detained 7-Eleven Filipino Worker Larry Villena Released on Bond; Family and Community Support Were Instrumental for His Release
DAMAYAN MIGRANTS | February 18, 2018
NEW YORK - After one month of being detained, 7-Eleven Filipino worker and single father of three Larry Villena was released on bond and was reunited with his cheering family and supporters yesterday. Mr. Villena, his family, and supporters were overjoyed with his release and would continue to fight for his right to stay in this country.
Mr. Villena is one of the four Filipino workers at 7-Eleven stores who was arrested last January, following the nationwide raids of the store chain that resulted in the arrest of a total of 21 workers. He was detained while the other three were detained and released on the same day.
“This is a small but important victory,” said Damayan Migrant Workers Association Lead Organizer Riya Ortiz. “This victory is a result of the courage of Mr. Villena and his family, and is a testament to the power of organizing and solidarity work.”
Mr. Villena came to the United States about ten years ago due to poverty and unemployment in the Philippines, and he sacrificed to be away from his children to provide them a better life. He worked in 7-Eleven in Little Neck, NY, for about ten years years until he was arrested in January. Despite his meager pay, he solely supported his children’s needs and schooling while raising them from afar. He also helped her sisters who had financial problems back home.
Damayan has been supporting Mr. Villena and the other three workers two days since the raids happened. Damayan referred them to immigration attorneys from the Community Development Program at the Urban Justice Center (CDP-UJC). CDP Staff Attorney Sean McMahon represented Mr. Villena in the hearing yesterday.
Damayan also gathered letters of support for Mr. Villena and helped pack the courtroom with representatives from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), T’ruah: Rabbis for Human Rights, and the Philippine Consulate. The immigration court judge even noted the community’s strong presence during the hearing.
On Sunday, February 18, 7pm, Damayan will hold a Facebook live video to talk about Mr. Villena’s case. Please watch through Damayan’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/damayanmigrantworkers.
Damayan Migrant Workers Association is a nonprofit organization that empowers low-wage workers to fight for their labor, health, gender, and immigrant rights. Established in 2002 by a group of Filipino domestic workers, our purpose is to build leadership at the grassroots level to eliminate labor trafficking, fight labor fraud and wage theft, and to demand fair labor standards to achieve economic and social justice.
The Community Development Project at Urban Justice Center provides legal, participatory research and policy support to strengthen the work of grassroots and community-based groups in New York City to dismantle racial, economic and social oppression.