US senator makes Filipino illegal poster boy for immigration reform | Global News

US senator makes Filipino illegal poster boy for immigration reform

/ 03:41 AM December 20, 2011

LOS ANGELES—Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin has cited the case of undocumented Filipino Jose Librojo in the US Senate to convince his fellow senators to support an immigration reform bill that he had cosponsored.

“Because of our broken immigration laws, Jose has been placed in deportation proceedings” said Durbin, who held up a poster-size photo of Librojo as he spoke on the Senate floor on December 12.

“All these years, 16 years in America… a man who is currently working in the health field, in dentistry, who’s done such a good job his employer wants to have him here permanently, is now facing the prospect of being deported to a country he cannot even remember,” Durbin said.


Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip and an ally of President Barack Obama, has been pushing for passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented people in the United States.


The act seeks to provide conditional permanent residency to undocumented immigrants of good moral character who arrived in America as minors, graduated from US high schools and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.

Librojo received a deportation order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) two months ago.

Thousands of supporters, led by Librojo’s friends and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (Nafcon), launched online petitions and an e-mail campaign to halt his deportation. Word of the case reached Durbin, who interceded for Librojo. ICE suspended Librojo’s deportation for one year to give him a chance to legalize his stay.

One-year reprieve

Librojo’s supporters said the deportation order was not consistent with the new Obama administration policy to avoid deporting illegal immigrants who were not criminals.


In his speech, Durbin defended the new Obama policy, which some lawmakers had criticized.

“I ask my colleagues who are critical of the administration’s deportation policy: Would America be better off if we deported… Librojo to the Philippines?” Durbin said. “I don’t think so.”

The new policy, issued in a June 17 memorandum by ICE Director John Morton, would scale back the deportation of undocumented residents who are young students, members of the military, elderly or close family of US citizens, among others, and focus on those aliens with criminal records.

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Librojo’s lawyer, Arnedo Valera, described his 31-year-old client as a Dream Act-eligible candidate who came to the United States lawfully as a child and lived in the country for 16 years. Among the documents submitted to Durbin for his December 12 presentation at the Senate were Philippine Daily Inquirer articles about the Librojo case, he said.

TAGS: Global Nation, Immigration Reform Bill, Jose Librojo, Richard Durbin, US Senate

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