Building Power to End Family Separation

DAMAYAN MIGRANTS | July 31, 2018

Damayan strongly condemns the US deportation machine and the Trump administration's policy of family separations. We also recognize that this did not start with Trump. The systematic separation of families and tearing apart of communities is embedded in the US imperialist racist immigration system ever since its inception. As an organization formed by Filipina migrant workers, we understand the experience of family separation and seek to reunite our members and survivors of human and labor trafficking with their children and families. Damayan stands in firm solidarity with all undocumented people and families, and we remain committed to fighting for the freedom of all until every family is reunited.

Family separation can look different for different communities— at the border with Mexico, mass incarceration of people of color, the historical forced separation of indigenous children from their families, as well as at home in the Philippines, when colonial conditions necessitate migration for survival and to provide for our children. However, the interrelated stories and experiences of damage, loss, grief and intergenerational trauma of US colonial imposed family separation connect us all and create the conditions for us to be in strong solidarity with one another. 

Four thousand, three hundred people leave the Philippines every day and the roots of family separation in the Philippines, in particular, run deep. Four hundred years of colonialism, including the last 100 years of U.S. direct and indirect rule have stripped the Phillippines of its economic and political sovereignty. The neoliberal policies of privatization and deregulation have heightened the conditions of poverty and high unemployment faced by Filipinos, causing over 10% of the population to migrate and leave their families behind to find work. 

Some children will not see their mothers for decades. Since the 1990’s, the migration of Filipinos abroad to find work has been feminized, with women making up to 80% of migrants, a vast majority working as domestic workers. Many of those migrant women end up in the global human trafficking industry, tricked by deceptive contracts, and their communications and movements monitored and restricted. 

Since 2002, Damayan has been organizing to end family separation, repair it's damage and build the healing capacity, power, and leadership of workers who have been forced to leave their families and homes. Damayan works to end the conditions that create forced labor migration and long-term family separation experienced by Filipino migrants around the world. Damayan recognizes that the Filipino struggle for liberation is intrinsically connected with all migrants struggle for liberation and dignity, and we, along with our sister organizations around the country, demand the full-scale decriminalization of immigration and for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. ICE was created with the sole purpose of targeting and criminalizing im/migrant communities for detention and deportation, because of this, dissolving the agency is the only way forward.

Damayan continues to call for the end of US imperialism, and we will continue to march, fight and organize for worker power and genuine liberation for all. As history has shown us over and over again, where there is oppression, there will always be resistance. While the Trump administration continues to tear families apart, we believe that no wall or amount of distance can tear apart the collective power of the people in the fight for justice.