Undocumented Pinoy students join protests vs mass deportation
SAN FRANCISCO – Dozens of undocumented immigrants engaged in a civil disobedience last week in front of the San Francisco Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement with over a hundred of their supporters from Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights (ASPIRE), Asian Law Caucus and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON).
Emmanuel Valenciano and Dean Santos, both undocumented Filipino students, risked arrest and deportation, just to tell the Obama administration to stop the tearing families apart. They were among those who blocked a bus, filled with people about to be deported.
“The government is not listening to us so we’re going to stop this literally with ourselves,” Valenciano said. “I know we’re not going to completely stop it—but we’re sending a message that we’re fed up. I’m fighting for what’s right and I’m here for my community.”
“If the government is not doing anything, the community has to stand up and fight back,” Santos added.
Santos, who was placed in deportation proceedings in the past, said he knows what it’s like to be in that bus and to be scared.
“I’m not scared anymore,” he said. “Look at the power of this community, the power we have right now.”
President Barack Obama may have recently renewed the push for immigration reform, following the end of government shutdown.
But these protesters said the deportations have not stopped. The Obama administration is reaching a record two million deportations, and last year alone spent more than $18 billion on separating families.
“So we are saying, ‘Not one more deportation’,” Jun Cruz of NAFCON said. “It’s not a crime to support your families. It is not a crime to escape poverty and it is not a crime to come here for a better livelihood.”
At the end of the five-hour protest, Valenciano and Santos were threatened by police with a felony false imprisonment charge for holding the bus filled with undocumented immigrants — hostage.
But citing the sanctuary policy, no arrests were made and no one was handed over by federal agents.
ICE officials have not made a comment following the arrest.
For these protesters, a just and humane immigration reform should be the solution and should be the only recourse for a government that, they said, needs to listen to its people.