Quantcast
Latest Stories

Activist takes risks fighting for US immigration reform

By

Raymond Jose speaks at a press conference across the Capitol after introduction of Senate bill providing millions a pathway to US citizenship, but would also enforce stricter deportation measures. PHOTO BY JASSIEL PEREZ. (UNITED WE DREAM)

WASHINGTON, DC—Raymond Jose, 22, knows what it’s like to live in fear every day. He goes through each day knowing that his mother, father or sister could be taken away from him because they are undocumented immigrants.

In a protest demanding comprehensive immigration reform that doesn’t separate families, Jose sat on the back of a deportation bus at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Phoenix, Arizona, in order to stop the deportation of the people on board.

Federal agents threatened to use pepper spray, and law enforcement subsequently arrested Jose. But for him, the activism was worth the risk of both arrest and possible deportation.

Jose and another immigration rights activist, Jose Patino, were arrested around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 22, but were released about one hour later. The next day, ICE let someone out from the bus who was of lower priority and the person was able to return to his family.

Message to Congress

Raymond Jose (left) getting arrested in non-violent civil disobedience that stopped a deportation bus from leaving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Phoenix, Arizona. PHOTO BY CARLA CHAVARRIA. (ARIZONA DREAM ACT COALITION)

“I definitely went in with the mind-set that this is something I have to do,” Jose said. “I feel that through civil disobedience the American public would see this is the pain our community goes through on a daily basis. It’s a message to Congress that they need to act now and stand up [for] families.”

Members from the largest youth-led immigration rights group in the US, United We Dream, participated in this act of civil disobedience. Jose works as the Washington, DC, organizer for the group.

A resident of Rockville, Maryland, Jose came to the US from the Philippines with his family when he was nine years old. He was not aware of his undocumented status until he started applying for college, when his parents informed him that because of his status, he could not accept scholarships.

Although Jose admits his family was initially upset to hear about his arrest, he said they understand why he did it. It’s difficult, he said, for most people in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities to reveal that they are undocumented and to stand up for fair immigration reform, but his parents are slowly breaking out of their shell.

“If we stay silent and keep our heads down nothing’s going to change,” he said.

Becoming a leader

Someone who has seen Jose grow as an activist is his close friend, Yves Gomes, who works with the Maryland Dream Youth Committee.

“I’m very glad to see that [Jose has] been able to step up to leadership and he’s really seized it. He’s one of the best leaders,” Gomes said.

Gomes, who was born in India, said although one out of every 10 immigrants is of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent, most people would never know that based on media coverage and turnouts at events.

“It just can’t be myself and [Jose] to represent our AAPI community in the [D.C., Maryland and Virginia] area,” Gomes said. “Our community is still very afraid and ashamed. It’s not a Latino issue or Asian issue; it’s a human issue.”

Immediate action needed

With debates over military action in Syria and the budget raging at the forefront, immigration reform could be pushed back to the end of the year, or even longer, but activists like Gomes stress the need for immediate action on the immigration issue.

“Our focus is to remind [legislators] that this issue is very urgent,” Gomes said. “It has to be done now. Every day we wait, every day we remain silent, thousands of people get deported from the country.”

Gomes continued: “My parents have been deported, I haven’t seen them for about five years. I want everything to see my parents here.”

Gomes added that Jose is adamant about fighting for his family to stay in the country. He observes how close Jose is to his family and he sees all of them work hard from day to day.

About families

“It’s not about us, it’s about our parents; it’s about our families,” Gomes said. “It’s about all the hardworking people who otherwise pay taxes do everything else, but aren’t American on paper.”

Jose hopes that some form of relief will be passed sometime this year addressing immigration. For the time being, he will continue empowering people in the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas who are facing deportation.

With United We Dream, Jose’s mission is to encourage people around the nation to share their immigration experiences and stand up for fair immigration reform. He will also continue meeting with legislators and doing lobby visits.

“We’re all trying to pursue the American Dream,” Jose said. “It’s time for this broken immigration system to be fixed.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: civil disobedience , Immigration , Legislation , Protest , reform



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • DPWH to favor road rehab over preventive maintenance in next 2 years
  • Uruguay’s leader declares $322,883 in wealth
  • Classes to resume at Pennsylvania stabbing school
  • DENR to tighten watch vs illegal logging in Davao area during Holy Week
  • SC junks Syjuco petition vs Ombudsman Act
  • Sports

  • Knicks prevent Nets from clinching fifth seed
  • Arsenal beats West Ham 3-1 in Premier League
  • Memorial service marks Hillsborough anniversary
  • My ideal weight is 140, declares Pacquiao
  • Freddie Roach: I’m satisfied; Manny Pacquiao did well
  • Lifestyle

  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  • Entertainment

  • Deniece Cornejo posts bail—report
  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Gary Valenciano just keeps moving
  • Business

  • I-Remit teams up with Lakhoo for remittances from Oman
  • Megawide nets P1.4 B in 2013
  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • US Embassy closed on Holy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Relief worker draws inspiration from helping Yolanda victims
  • Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes
  • No travel restrictions to Middle East amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Measures set against entry of MERS-CoV
  • Marketplace