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Activist takes risks fighting for US immigration reform

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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.”


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  • gringoloco

    Sad to say this myself.
    But all these people should be in jail and deported right away.
    Reason?
    Because in Philippines the Bureau of Immigration do the same to foreigners.
    Equal rights.
    They have no rights to march and protest against the goverment of United States of America.
    Jail and deport them……….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hey_Dudes

    Until the word ‘ILLEGAL” becomes ‘LEGAL” on any dictionary, no amount of protestation makes it justifiable. You acted in an illegal way, you become an illegal no two things about it. I waited in line, years and a lot of tears, sweat and pain waiting to be called to be informed if your immigration application has been approved or not. Today, it seems to have gotten easier albeit messier. One just need to hop onto a plane and once here, stay here until; life becomes difficult and then blame the USA for your situation.

  • ako_to

    Mga mandurugas..Kapal ng mukha ninyong magdemand ng immigration reform. Humarap kayo sa mga taong naghihintay maging current ang priority dates nila at nagtityagang maghintay sa pila ng immigration. Madami rin naman silang sakripisyo at nahiwalay sa pamilya dahil sa kahihintay ah. Tapos kayong mga mandurugas ang ayaw maghiwa-hiwalay ang pamilya porket nanjan kayo feeling nyo “Americans” na rin kayo. Kung hirap kayo sa pagiging ILLEGAL, aba, ang swerte nyo naman at gusto nyo pang sisihin at baguhin ang sistema para sa pangsariling kapakanan ninyo. Sumunod muna kayo sa batas. Pangalawa, kung puede lang, tuwing lumalantad kayo sa mga ganyang rally, alisin nyo na ang salitang Fil-Am sa bokabularyo nyo, dahil habang patuloy nyong binabanggit ang pagiging Fil-AM nya, madadamay ang libu-libong Pinoy na masunurin sa batas. Sarilinin nyo na lang ang pagiging bulok ninyo.

  • bogli_anakdami

    ay sus ginoo… talagang mga flip gung gongs kahit saang lupalop ng mundo eh pandamay… doon mag TNT/squats sa ‘merka, tapos lakas ng loob na gustong maging markano (tulad ko, naks)…

    hoy mga flip gung gongs, puro kayo palamunins ng gobyerno… uwi na lang kayo ditto sa flipland at mag-artista… kc, mga flip gung gongs ditto eh hangang-hanga sa mahusay mag-inles, di ba? yun lang…

  • kinutil

    yong ugali nila sa PILIPINAS dinadala sa America akala siguro nila mga gunggong ang mga tao sa AMERICA HOY lokoloko hindi ka sinasabihan ng AMERICA na pumunta sa kanila kundi ikaw ang nag pupumilit na PUMUNTA ngayon gusto mong sila ang sumunod sa gusto mo.HOY para malaman mo ang bawat bansa may sariling batas na sinusunod ngayon gusto mong sirain nila ang kanilang batas dahil hindi ayon sa gusto mo.HOY KAYO ANG MAHILIG MAG SUNOG NG BANDILA NG AMERICA NGAYON NANDYAN kayo AT GUSTO PA NINYONG KAYO ANG MASUNOD.umuwi kayo sa pinanggalingan nyo. pumasok kayong iligal tapos kayo ang matapang.

  • Mea Culpa

    Know where your right place is…and stay there. Your citizenship was accorded to you as a privilege, not a right…be respectful to your adopted country and follow the existing laws there.

    Else, you would give them a great service if you will just get out of there if you are no longer happy with their governance…why push for something illegal? are you that special?

  • 33Sam

    HOW MUCH DID THEY PAY THIS DORK??

    POSTER BOY FOR THE “PUSH” OF LAX IMMIGRATION LAWS!

    THE GLOBALISTS WANT YOU IGNORANT IMMIGRANTS TO CAPSIZE THE U.S. ECONOMY.

    DON’T WORRY!!

    YOU CAN STAY!!

    MAKE SURE YOU GET A GOOD JOB THOUGH BECAUSE YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO AFFORD THE MONTHLY HOLD UP FOR THE OBAMACARE.

    AND ALL THE OTHER TAXES!!!

    AND AFTER YOU GET OUT OF SCHOOL YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO PAY BACK YOUR STUDENT LOANS!!!

    AND ARE THEY PRE-KILLING YOU WITH VACCINES BEFORE YOU CAN REGISTER FOR SCHOOL???

    PYRAMID SCHEME COMING AT YA!!!

  • Ncarreonjr

    You break the immigration laws and then protest/complain later that the laws be changed to accomodate you. Fall in line like everybody else.

  • askal2u

    Fall in line like the rest of legal immigrants who waited more than 20 years to go to US legally. Illegals should have no priority over these legal immigrants and they should be eligible for any federal benifits such as welfare, food stamp, SSI, scholarship, subsidized tuition fee. If they get their green card, they it should be mandatory for them to serve in the military to pay for the freedom they are seeking that US citizen and legal immigrant soldiers fight to protect.

  • Kamoteng Baging

    You miss your parents? Join them back in the Philippines. Problem solved.



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