Archive for the ‘immigration’ Category

A Filipina dies in the Binghampton, NY bloodbath

April 5, 2009

Dolores Carbonilas Yigal, an immigrant of the United States for two years was among the 14 people who died when Jiverly Wong (aka Jiverly Voong,) 41, the Vietnamese gunman barged and opened fire in the American Civic Association building where immigrants and refugees were taking language classes and citizenship tests. Initial report indicated that Wong, also an immigrant, was despondent of being jobless with poor language skills.

“Binghamton has always been a lure for immigrants. More than 7,100 immigrants, most of them Asians, have settled in Binghamton since 2005, according to city statistics. They are a cosmopolitan mix of Kurds, Chinese, Filipinos, Africans, Iraqis—but only a fraction of the city’s predominantly white population of 43,000.’—Inquirer /AP/ AFP (04/05/09, Uy, V)

The Filipina from Cebu was studying English in the civic center in preparation to work and join the mainstream of American life. Her dream was cut short like the other migrants from 8 countries who died on Friday, April 3, 2009, mostly of multiple gun shot wounds.

Omni Yigal, the husband of Dolores said his wife dreamed of working with children. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sent a representative to assist and console the Yigal family. (Photo Credit: AP/ Matt Rourke x 2 ) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “14 dead in a shooting spree in Binghamton, New York” Posted by mesiamd at 4/04/2009

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Migration tragedy: 21 dead and hundreds missing as boat sinks in Mediterranean sea

April 1, 2009

In the cold waters off Libya, a frail fishing boat carrying about 250 aspiring migrants to Europe sank during stormy weather on Friday, March 27, 2009. At least 20 illegal aliens drowned and more than 200 hundred were reported missing. Mostly from Africa and Middle East, the victims were part of an undetermined number of illegal travelers who perish each year in their bid for a better life.

“Thousands of African, Asian and Middle Eastern migrants fleeing wars and poverty use Libya and other North African countries as a launching pads for the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to southern Europe — often in rickety, overloaded boats. Another flimsy vessel with about 350 migrants was rescued about a day later in the same area where the fishing boat capsized.” AP (03/31/09, Fergany, AM; Santana, R)

Although 350 migrants in a second boat with no casualties were rescued and brought back to Tripoli, Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Geneva, Switzerland said this sea mishap could be the biggest in terms of the number of dead and missing of a sea vessel leaving North Africa to Europe.

The cause of the sinking has not been known, but a Libyan police officer said the boat was overloaded, and bad weather could be a contributory factor. Some survivors however spoke of a hole that caused the boat to capsize.

The death of the migrants brings to light the growing problem of illegal immigration. In spite of efforts to curb unlawful movement of people in Europe, nationals from impoverished countries worldwide risk their lives in search for better economic opportunities.

Even those who travel with valid papers also face hardships and alienation in their search for jobs. A recent case is the humiliation and abuse by Chip Tsao, an arrogant HK journalist who disparagingly insulted overseas Filipinos whose country he referred to as “a nation of servants.” (Photo Credit: Holvic) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “New Immigration Laws Worry Illegal Aliens In Europe ” Posted by mesiamd at 6/22/2008

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US Visa Availability March 2009

March 2, 2009

Each month, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issue the visa availability of those who wish to immigrate (family-based application) or work (employment based application) in America. For the month of March 2009 here are the abridged priority dates:

FAMILY CATEGORIES March

Categories—-Worldwide—-China (PRC)—-India——-Mexico—–Philippines
1st————07-22-02—–07-22-02——-07-22-02—-10-08-92—07-15-93
2A————07-01-04—–07-01-04——-07-01-04—-10-15-01—07-01-04
2B————06-22-00—–06-22-00——-06-22-00—-05-01-92—12-01-97
3rd———–08-08-00—–08-08-00——-08-08-00—-10-15-02—06-08-91
4th———–03-01-98——11-15-97——–03-01-98—-04-08-95—05-15-86

EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES

Categories— Worldwide—-China (PRC)—-India—–Mexico—–Philippines
1st————–Current——Current———Current—Current—-Current
2nd————Current——02-15-05——–02-15-04—Current—-Current
3rd————05-01-05—–10-22-02——–10-15-01—08-15-03—05-01-05
Unskilled—–03-15-03—–10-22-02———10-15-01–03-15-03—03-15-03
4th————Current——Current———-Current—Current—-Current
Religious—–Current——Current———-Current—Current—-Current
5th————-Current——Current———-Current—Current—-Current

For detailed information I suggest the websites: State Department Visa Bulletin—http://travel.state.gov/; http://shusterman.com/vb.html (Photo Credit: Yuhuru1701)

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US Visa Availability February 2009

February 2, 2009

Each month, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issue the visa availability of those who wish to immigrate (family-based application) or work (employment based application) in America. For the month of January 2009 here are the abridged priority dates:

FAMILY CATEGORIES

Categories–Worldwide—China (PRC)—-India———-Mexico———Philippines
1st———07-08-02—-07-08-02——07-08-02——–10-08-92——–07-15-93
2A———-06-01-04—-06-01-04——06-01-04——–09-22-01——–06-01-04
2B———-05-08-00—-05-08-00——05-08-00——–05-01-92——–10-15-97
3rd———08-01-00—-08-01-00——08-01-00——–10-08-92——–06-01-91
4th———02-15-98—-09-22-97——01-15-98——–03-22-95——–05-01-86

EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES

Categories—-Worldwide——–China (PRC)——India—–Mexico—–Philippines
1st————-Current———-Current————Current—Current—–Current
2nd————-Current———01-01-05———01-01-04—Current—–Current
3rd————-05-01-05——–10-01-02——–10-15-01–04-01-03—-05-01-05
Unskilled——-03-15-03——–10-01-02——–10-15-01–10-15-01—-03-15-03
4th————-Current———–Current———Current—Current——Current
Religious——-Current———-Current———Current—-Current—–Current
5th————-Current———–Current———Current—Current——Current

For detailed information I suggest the websites: State Department Visa Bulletin—http://travel.state.gov/; http://shusterman.com/vb.html (Photo Credit: Yuhuru1701 PD)

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Labels: employment, family, immigration, OFW, overseas worker, petition, State Department, Totie Mesia, USA, USCIS, Visa

In war-battered Gaza, Filipinos mull on the price of working abroad

January 11, 2009

With no end in sight, the red-hot Israel-Palestinian conflict completes its second week on January 11, 2009 with nearly 900 reported dead and many more wounded, about half of them are innocent non-combatants of war. Regardless of which side we may be in the decades-long hostilities, the clear message is that racial intolerance, religious bigotry, and territorial disputes don’t bring any good.

The duplicity in the exercise of diplomacy, the use of terrorism, and the rejection of a two-state solution by hardliners remain as huge stumbling blocks in bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The interference of countries that benefit from an unstable Middle East is partly to blame.

Civilians living in the Gaza Strip are in a crossfire that disrupts their lives and threatens their survival. In the bloody exchanges of a protracted cycle of violence, the innocents bear undeserved suffering. Among them are workers and migrants from the Philippines who come to this troubled part of the world mainly for economic reasons.

We can only sympathize with our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who put their lives on line to seek ways to survive and help their families back home. We can only ask for the cessation of the killings—an immediate ceasefire which is unheaded at this time.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA,) 16 Filipinos have left the war-torn area and arrived in Manila. Of the 121 still left in Gaza, 69 expressed their desire to evacuate, but the fierce fighting prevents them to do so. It is uncertain if this number includes the illegal Filipinos workers who take risky jobs in the shadows.

This brings us to the problem of our government which sorely lags behind in helping the people to be self-sufficient back home. If jobs and economic opportunities exist in the country, then there are few reasons for our kababayans to insist working in dangerous places like the Middle East. The cost to pay for family separations, isolation, and loneliness is incalculable. It’s sad that our cash-strapped government is in a losing policy of sending Filipinos abroad for the money they’ll earn for the nation’s economy. With no sign of stopping, our workers continue to suffer on their own, at times trapped in harm’s way.

Just to land a job, no matter how menial, has been a source of hope and pride among poor Filipinos who ignore the risks of travel outside the country. Yet, this is the reality of our society faces. Adding to the 10 million Filipinos already deployed abroad, a restless stream still wants to leave for the money.

The government must do better than what our officials think is good enough. There will be a season that host countries won’t justly pay for the services of Filipinos. To keep the country economically alive there’ll be a time when going abroad will be one of our most dreaded options. (Photo Credits: Aryty; Rusty Stewart x 7 photos) =0=

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US Visa Availability January 2009

January 6, 2009

Each month, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issue the visa availability of those who wish to immigrate (family-based application) or work (employment based application) in America. For the month of January 2009 here are the abridged priority dates:

FAMILY CATEGORIES

Categories—-Worldwide—-China (PRC)—-India——-Mexico—–Philippines
1st————06-15-02—–06-15-02——-06-15-02—-10-01-92—07-15-93
2A————05-15-04—–05-15-04——-05-15-04—-08-15-01—05-15-04
2B————03-22-00—–03-22-00——-03-22-00—-05-01-92—09-01-97
3rd———–08-01-00—–08-01-00——-08-01-00—-10-01-92—05-22-91
4th———–02-08-98—–08-22-97——-11-01-97—-03-08-95—05-01-86

EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES

Categories— Worldwide—-China (PRC)—-India—–Mexico—–Philippines
1st————–Current——Current———Current—Current—-Current
2nd————Current——07-08-04——–07-01-03–Current—-Current
3rd———–05-01-05—–06-01-02——–10-15-01–11-15-02—05-01-05
Unskilled—–03-15-03—–03-15-03———03-15-03–03-15-03—03-15-03
4th————Current——Current———-Current—Current—-Current
Religious—–Current——Current———-Current—Current—-Current
5th————Current——Current———-Current—Current—-Current

For detailed information I suggesgt the websites: State Department Visa Bulletin—http://travel.state.gov/; http://shusterman.com/vb.html (Photo Credit: Yuhuru1701)

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The legal immigration limbo & why playing by the rules is important

November 3, 2008

Mexican illegal immigrants in the United States range between 12 to 21 million. The problem is huge, but illegal immigration has taken a back seat away from the more important issues like the economy, homeland security and abortion.

The Republican and Democratic presidential candidates don’t focus on the immigration problem partly because they need the votes of immigrant-citizens. Both candidates have legalization plans for the gate-crashers of America whose number has become “unmanageable.” Obama has more perks for illegal aliens than McCain.

Against the wish of 75% of Americans, the country concedes that it can’t rationally keep the illegal aliens out. Many believe mass deportation isn’t a realistic option. In varying degrees, many politicians have become cozy with the illegal aliens mainly for their numbers and their votes (capacity to change the outcome of an election,) not because it is right thing to do.

In this backdrop people worldwide are waiting for their immigration papers to be adjudicated. Among them are those who have expected patiently for decades. They are frustrated with the extremely long wait. There are those who lose eligibility forcing them to change plans. Aging-out, marriage or death are among the reasons why others are unable to come. Some find ways to arrive illegally.

Abiding with the US immigration laws, those who apply for legal immigration obviously play by the rules. They deserve to be rewarded for siding with the law. Yet, in the waiting line, they are pushed aside.

Lacking fairness, their applications are decided slower than those of illegal aliens already in USA. Overstaying aliens enjoy the benefits of being in America way ahead of the legal applicants; they get higher priority in adjusting visa status.

Such injustice and disregard of standard rules are clearly illustrated in the visa delay shown in the November 2008 US visa bulletin issued by the USCIS. The waiting times to get an immigrant visa number from the Philippines under the 3rd and 4th preference family-based category is 17 years (05/08/91) and 22 years (03/22/86) respectively. They don’t include the 6 months to 1 year time to iron out the requirements of immigration. That’s incredibly long time, but true!

Filipinos are distressed. With huge backlogs in various categories, the visas intended for them are allotted to legalize aliens who are already in USA. The sluggishness of the immigration process gives more incentive for people to slip unlawfully into the country’s backdoor.

Think how polarizing these fixes are. It scares many law-abiding citizens when rules are tailored to suit a group at a disadvantage of another. Not only does the immigration service (INS) reward lawbreakers, they clearly frustrate the purpose of the legal family reunification enshrined in the immigration law.

The expedient decision favoring illegal aliens has been justified on humanitarian grounds, but UCIS/INS rarely gives this to those who have waited 20 years to become an immigrant. This is another area where the US tradition of fairness and compassion is wearing away. Americans have reasons to be worried of foreigners coming to USA who don’t respect its laws. (Photo Credits: BHowdy; http://www.hedgerley.net; wanderingangel)

US STATE DEPARTMENT VISA BULLETIN, NOVEMBER 2008

FAMILY CATEGORIES PRIORITY DATES
——–Worldwide—China (PRC)—India——-Mexico—–Philippines
1st—–05-01-02— 05-01-02— 05-01-02— 09-15-92—05-01-93
2A—– 02-08-04— 02-08-04— 02-08-04— 07-15-01—02-08-04
2B—– 01-15-00— 01-15-00— 01-15-00— 04-22-92—06-15-97
3rd—–07-01-00— 07-01-00— 07-01-00— 09-15-92—05-08-91
4th—–11-15-97— 06-08-97— 07-22-97— 01-22-95—03-22-86

EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES PRIORITIY DATES
———Worldwide—China (PRC)—India—-Mexico—-Philippines
1st——–Current—Current——-Current—-Current—Current
2nd——- Current—06-01-04—-06-01-03—Current—Current
3rd——–05-01-05—02-01-02—10-01-01—09-01-02—05-01-05
Unskilled—01-15-03—01-15-03—01-15-03—01-15-03—01-15-03
4th——— Current——Current—–Current—-Current—-Current
Religious—-UA———UA———–UA———-UA———UA (unavailable)

Terrorism, economic meltdown and other problems facing Americans and the world

September 24, 2008

There is a lulling effect of media’s downplay of other important problems affecting Americans. As an example, in a Gallup poll taken in March 2008, only 2% worry about terrorism—as though it’s a problem of the past.

This is partly an effect of liberal media’s dismissal that those who are bothered by terrorism are essentially “war mongerers” and “alarmists.” Many media people are averse to paying the high cost of security to a point of misleading the public. They ignore that enemies determined to harm us take their time and they wait. There are those who believe diplomacy is often effective and terrorists and Al Qaeda can be appeased in the name of friendship.

The hard reality is terrorism only needs one occasion to succeed. And terrorists are determined and clever. They pulled through in 911 at the World Trade Center (WTC) and in the cowardly killings in Spain, Bali, Kenya, Pakistan, UK, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Philippines, and in other parts of the world. Being friendly with terrorists is therefore a risky business.

The problem issues that citizens (with changing and short attention spans) have grown. But would you believe, only 2% of Americans as of March 2008 Gallup Poll thinks terrorism is a problem?

The new economic woes in Wall Street divert the nation’s attention away from other equally significant problems. The world reacts the same way—finger-pointing on who is to blame after foolishly ignoring the danger signs of the economic meltdown before they blew in the people’s faces.

Reckless buying of houses that they couldn’t afford wasn’t a problem until the mortgage crisis took its toll. Many who were stuck to what they erroneously believed were gripped with panic. Denial, complacency and short memory proved to be dangerous to the security of these individuals, the nation, and the world.

The Most Important Problem(s) Facing America, March 2008

Economic Problems…………………….35%
Iraq War……………………………………21%
Health Care & Costs……………………8%
Fuel, Gas Costs………………………….8%
Immigration & Illegal Aliens……………6%
Jobs & Unemployment…………………..5%
Gov’t Corruption & Incompetence…..5%
Moral Decline………………………………4%
Education……………………………………4%
Inflation & Cost of Living………………..4%
Poverty & Hunger………………………….3%
National Security…………………………..2%
Terrorism…………………………………….2%

Source: Gallup Poll, March 2008/Fleeced (Morris, D; McGann E; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2008, pp. 46-47.) Photo Credit: Mario Zuccal. =0=

Belying nurse surplus with unfilled 20,000 foreign jobs—a slanted view of RP’s unemployment problem

September 2, 2008

After Ruth Padilla, a commissioner of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) announced there are 400,000 currently unemployed nurses in the Philippines, Jackson Gan, the vice-president of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters and his organization belie the excess of nurses because there are unfilled “20,000 job orders for nurses in the Middle East, Singapore, and Europe.” Inquirer (09/01/08, Uy, V.)

By numbers alone, 20,000 jobs Gan speaks of don’t come close to 400,000 jobless licensed nurses that Padilla is referring to. Even if these foreign jobs are filled, there remain 380,000 licensed nurses who aren’t employed. Many more nurses are scheduled to finish their courses and take the boards, adding more numbers in the jobless pool. So how can Gan prove his point?

On Gan’s admission many nurses are shifting to other jobs in computers, call centers, medical transcriptions, or other employment unrelated to their education out of desperation. Is this not a sign of an oversupply? The existence of foreign job offers abroad doesn’t negate the reality of joblessness at home, the place where Filipinos must be in the first place.

Speaking for the manpower establishment (also maybe for the POEA as well,) whose main role is to fill in workers, Gan sounds condescending in saying that our nurses aren’t qualified for the job. This isn’t entirely true— knowing that they went through standard accredited study and were licensed as professionals by the Philippine Regulations Commission (PRC.)

Almost everyone knows there is slowing in hiring coincident to the way-ward increase in the number of nurses in the supply pool. Contrary to Gan’s assertion, Filipino nurses want to go abroad even in countries other than the United States, but there are reasons other than the prejorative label of “not being qualified” that are keeping them at home

The lack of two-year experience in a 250-bed hospital is the reason Gan cites for the unfilled foreign jobs. But this is simplistic and misleading for the turn-over of nurses in big hospitals is brisk. Because of the US back-log (not enough visas are available,) many nurses who already passed the NCLEX are forced to wait for at least 2 years, just the right time for them to comply with the experience requirement.

It is more likely therefore, the 20,000 foreign positions aren’t filled (if truly they exist) is because the jobs offered aren’t attractive enough— the workplace can be “unsafe,” the terms of the contract may be unacceptable, there can be family issues that remain unresolved on immigration, or the offer of going abroad poses difficult cultural and language barriers that is hard to meet. Above all, many applicants may not have the cash to finance their foreign applications forcing them to work and save first before pursuing their plans abroad.

Reported in the news before, Spain wants Filipino nurses, but job-seekers need to learn Spanish—a task that has nothing to do with the nurse’s ability to care for patients in the hospital. Why will they learn Spanish when they are even struggling with the English language which takes them too long to master? Similarly, Belgium also needs nurses, but they have to speak in Belgian. Saudi Arabia may have jobs, but horror stories abound from nurses and overseas foreign workers (OFW’s) who worked in countries where the treatment of women and foreigners are different. There are scary reports of maids in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East who commit suicide because of maltreatment, rape, isolation, and intolerable working conditions.

Gan and people with his mindset need to simply look around to say what they are saying is lopsided, a cheap letdown against the nurses, themselves helpless victims of inept education and labor planning. He speaks from the vantage point of an astute labor-peddler whose interest is mainly to deploy workers in jobs without much regard of the welfare of Filipinos braving the uncertainties and hardships in the world outside. =0=

New Immigration Laws Worry Illegal Aliens In Europe

June 21, 2008

After some delay because of differing positions among the 27-member countries, the European Union (EU) has finally set up stricter immigration laws which guide the handling and expulsion of apprehended illegal aliens. This is part of an effort to come up with a uniform European immigration and asylum policy by 2010.

With rising tide of resentments over lack of jobs, crowding, surging crime, and slowing of the economy, EU parliament on June 19, 2008 overwhelmingly passed the tough controversial measure. Here it is at a glance:

European Union Rules on Illegal Aliens (2008)
-Option to leave voluntarily within 30 days of apprehension
-Illegal aliens confined in special detention cells, not jails.
-Provide for basic human rights and access to legal help
-Maximum detention of 18 months (1.5 years)
-Reentry ban for those forcibly expelled
-2 years for governments to implement
-Workplace raids vs. illegal aliens not permitted

The new measure had been criticized by Amnesty International (AI) and other human rights groups asserting that the rules do not guarantee the return and dignity of the migrants. (USA Today, /AP (06/21/08)

Migrante-Europe’s chairman of the board, Rev. Jaime Taguba opined, “”We believe that enforcing these rules on undocumented migrants is counterproductive and would only exacerbate the crises in the EU and the countries of origin of these undocumented migrants because these rules go against social justice and progress, and are inhumane.” Taguba asked the EU to “adhere to conventions, treaties, and agreements, institute measures to de-criminalize the undocumented and take measures to remove the basis of ‘illegality’ by, among others, adopting regularization programs.” Inquirer (06/21/08, Uy,V.)

European Union (2006):
-8 million illegal aliens
-1 million apprehended
-500,000 caught inside EU
-200,000 deported mostly from Spain, Italy, Greece

Philippines:
-124,000 undocumented Filipinos in EU
-40,000 in France, 20,000 in Italy

USA:
-11 million illegal aliens, mostly from Mexico
-273,000 deported in 2007
-Workplace raids permitted

The controversy behind illegal immigration opens anew fresh wounds on countries like the Philippines which depend on overseas workers’ foreign money remittances to boost its local economy. In the short term, Filipinos hail jobs abroad as boon to survival, but as employment abroad grow scarcer, workers are displaced, exploited, and fall prey into a life of illegality. Separated from their families for years, they go through untold suffering and pain. There is little the government can do.

As Rev. Taguba pointed out, the long term solution to forced migration is to “fundamentally address the structural problems of economic backwardness, political dependence and neo-colonial enslavement of the home countries of these undocumented migrants.”

It is clear the Philippines need to make local employment more available so its citizens can resist the lure of going abroad to find jobs. The government must work doubly hard to convince its citizens that there is a future in the country—They can work and build meaningful productive lives while waiting for a chance to immigrate legally abroad. =0=