Meanwhile, Butch Pongos of Migrante-Japan said that there are 240,000 Filipinos in Japan, 40,000 are undocumented.
He said that in 2005, the Japanese government reinforced the anti-trafficking law. “In spite of that, the number of people who were trafficked dramatically increased in the last three years.” He said many enter Japan using assumed names or by entering into bogus marriages. Pongos said these migrants are most vulnerable to unscrupulous employers.
Leticia Brondial, a factory worker in South Korea, shared her story. She came to South Korea in 2001 with a tourist visa.
On Feb. 26, 2007, she was arrested. That time she was eight-months pregnant. At the detention cell in Moklong Immigration in Seoul, she suffered tremendous stress and fatigue. She was not given any medical attention despite repeated pleas.
She was told to pay ten million woon before she can be deported. After three days, she was released per doctor’s advice.
Never a choice
Ilagan said, “Being illegal is never a migrant’s choice. Intense poverty, widespread hunger and massive unemployment in the Philippines have pushed 8.7 million Filipinos to seek work abroad. And because achieving a valid and legal working permit meant thousands of pesos in government fees, recruitment fees, medical examination, travel expenses, among many others, many Filipinos choose to use the back door.”
She said that some Filipinos wanting to work abroad believe that illegality is simply a provisional status on the way to achieving legal status. Once they are in the host country, ‘illegal’ migrants try anything and everything to get work contracts so that they could be regularized and obtain a work permit. But after a time, however, illegality becomes a permanent status due to the difficulty of acquiring proper authorization.
She said that employers in host countries prefer to hire undocumented migrants who would accept much smaller wages and poorer working conditions over ‘legal’ migrants or local workers.
In the face of all the abuses and discrimination, many undocumented migrants are standing up for their rights.
Migrante-Europe’s Taguba said undocumented migrants hold hunger strikes or fasting lasting from weeks to months mostly in churches. They also stage protest actions. “These are held in response to police raids and brutality and forcible deportation.”
Caption . (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)
They have also formed their own organizations, said Taguba. He said that thousands joined the campaign for regularization in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain and Italy.
Migrant advocates raise the calls “Migrant rights are human rights,” and “Without papers but not without rights.” They demand closure of detention centers and a stop to deportation.
Taguba said, “There is a need to intensify and broaden the campaign to protect the rights of all migrants and their families, especially the most vulnerable- the undocumented. The key to the success of the campaign is their organization and mobilization and linking their struggle with democratic and progressive sectors and forces in their countries of origin.” (Bulatlat.com)