Legal experts advise illegal Filipinos in US to assert rights

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Prime

via – Amid growing tension over immigration in the US, a public information session has urged undocumented Filipino immigrants to become aware of their rights and use available resources to assert them.

Representatives of the Filipino Community Center, Asian Law Caucus, Migrante SoMa/Tenderloin and National Alliance For Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) held the event at the Bayanihan Community Center in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, reported Inquirer.

Undocumented Filipinos in the United States live in a perpetual state of fear and uncertainty. But they shouldn’t, some of the session participants reportedly said.

“They shouldn’t live in fear,” Terrence Valen, director of Filipino Community Center and president of NAFCON, was quoted as saying. “They should be prepared, and assert their rights together with community groups and organizations. Lawyers are ready and willing to help them.”

Princess R. Bustos, a community organizer for Migrante SoMa/Tenderloin, reportedly said, “We are our only defense, and the only way that we can fight against these attacks against our community is to stand together, fight for our rights, and protect each other,” she said. “We will not let Trump’s divisive tactics of pitting groups against each stray us from holding him accountable. We want our kababayans to know that Migrante is here for them, to not be afraid, and they have the power to change their situation.”

Valen was quoted as saying that “violent attacks have happened in our community. People have been verbally harassed about going ‘back to your country,’ saying ‘you don’t deserve to be here. You’re dirty.’ People here in the [SoMa] neighborhood were beaten up on local streets by racist whites, and the police are not really defending them, so these are things that are happening on the ground in our community.”

Valen reportedly claimed that some undocumented Filipinos are in trouble due to their criminal activities in the motherland.

“[They] are in detention for deportation right now because of drug offenses in the Philippines,” he was quoted as saying. “So these are being used against Filipino immigrants in this country to detain and deport them.”

Speakers discussed the history of immigration, immigrants’ rights, and the importance of sanctuary cities for immigrants, leading to a Q&A session.

“I really appreciated it,” Inquirer quoted Pearl, one of the audience members, as saying. “I really like all the topics. It’s very helpful for me, and I want to spread it to all the people I know here … and my friends.”

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