Catherine Tactaquin

Catherine Tactaquin


* Open Borders advocate
* Founder of the National Network for Immigration and Refugee Rights
* Executive Committee member of Migrant Rights International

The daughter of an immigrant farmworker from the Philippines, Catherine Tactaquin spent many years in grassroots organizing and advocacy in the Filipino-American community. Toward that end, she helped established Filipino Civil Rights Advocates (FCRA) and eventually went on to become a member of its national council.

In 1978 Tactaquin served on the national committee of the Peoples Alliance which grew out of the July 4 Coalition; the latter was a radical entity composed of New Left revolutionary groups like the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, the American Indian Movement , and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee.

In 1980 Tactaquin was a signatory to the “Call for a Conference on Racism and National Oppression,” a Marxist-Leninist event which was planned for the summer of 1981.

In the 1980s as well, Tactaquin served on the editorial board of Line of March: A Journal of Marxist-Leninist Theory and Politics.

In 1986 she founded the National Network for Immigration and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), where she continues to serve as national director.

Tactaquin helped establish Migrant Rights International in 1994 and later went on to serve on its executive committee.

At the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism national conference and convention in July 2002, Tactaquin participated in a panel titled “Disarmament and the Military Budget.” Other noteworthy panelists included Peter Orris and Harry Targ.

After helping to launch the Global Coalition on Migration in 2011, Tactaquin played a key role in founding both the Women and Global Migration Working Group and the the Women in Migration Network in 2012.

In 2013 Tactaquin spoke at the annual Democratic Socialists of America national convention in Oakland, California.

At the National Lawyers Guild‘s annual convention in November 2018, she participated in a panel titled “Global Compact on Migration: Causes and Patterns of Forced Migration.”

In July 2018, Tactaquin charged that as a result of President Donald Trump’s “inhumane and incompetent” immigration policies, “babies and other children [at the U.S.-Mexico border] were [being] torn away from their parents” by American immigration authorities “violating international laws and any sense of moral decency.”[1]

In January 2019, Tactaquin condemned President Trump for having offered to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — rooted in a 2012 executive action by which former President Barack Obama had protected at least 800,000 young illegal aliens from deportation — in exchange for congressional funding for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Accusing Trump of holding “almost 800,000 dreamers – undocumented youth who benefited from the DACA program – hostage over the wall,” Tactaquin asserted that the president’s “build the wall” mantra “was a code for … keep the immigrants out.” She also accused the Trump administration of “reneging [on] our national laws with regards to asylum [and] our obligations under international agreements to provide a safe haven to those who qualify.” Moreover, Tactaquin accused Trump of trying, for propaganda purposes, to advance “a manufactured crisis” by highlighting the activities of the massive “caravans” of Central American migrants that had recently tried to flood across the border. The only crisis worth noting, Tactaquin argued, was “the humanitarian crisis that has emerged in Central America,” where “the problem of persistent poverty [and] violence” had rendered “[El] Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala” among “the most dangerous countries in the entire world.” This, said Tactaquin, was the cause of “the Central American exodus – also described as the migrant caravan – [which] are really families who have been leaving Central America and traveling as a group because that is the safest way for them to travel to flee those conditions and to try to reach a safe haven.”

In January 2019 as well, Tactaquin was “very disappointed” when Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives were reportedly prepared to compromise with President Trump on funding for a “smart wall” — i.e., increased border security featuring electronic surveillance equipment but no physical barrier. Such “heavy investment in technology,” Tactaquin lamented, “only adds to a permanent infrastructure based on deterrence.” “By proposing this support for a smart wall,” she expanded, Democrats “are caving in to the false narrative about ‘uncontrolled’ undocumented migration, the fear narrative about terrorists stealing across the border, and countering illicit drug trafficking.”

In addition to her aforementioned affiliations, Tactaquin also has been a board member of the Washington, D.C.-based Poverty, Race and Research Action Council, whose stated mission is to “promote research-based advocacy strategies to address structural inequality and disrupt the systems that disadvantage low-income people of color.”

Further Reading: “Cathi Tactaquin” (,; “Immigration Activists Bash Trump’s Family Reunification Plan” (Daily Beast, 7-19-2018); “Trump Takes Government Workers Hostage to Demand Border Wall Funding” (interview with Catherine Tactaquin,, 1-9-2019); “Immigration Advocates Reject Democrats’ Plan to Offer Trump ‘Smart Wall’” (, 1-25-2019).


  1. As Matthew Sussis of the Center for Immigration Studies explains: “In April 2018, the Trump administration implemented new guidelines as part of its ‘zero tolerance’ policy toward illegal entry, in response to the rising number of illegal aliens showing up with their children at the southern border. Under these guidelines, the Justice Department prosecuted every border infiltrator for the crime of entry without inspection. After detaining the parents, the government could either put the children in a shelter (due to legal prohibitions on keeping children in detention for over 20 days), or release the entire family into the interior of the country — ‘catch-and-release’ — and hope that they don’t simply disappear into the illegal immigrant population. The first of these two options has been decried by critics as one of ‘family separation’.”

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