by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LONG BEACH, CA — While California waits for its lawmakers to take up a sanctuary state bill, Filipinos are hoping their own cities can declare themselves as sanctuary status, with its port and large Filipino community.
This is the 6th annual People’s State of the City — a chance for Long Beach activists, residents, and city officials to interact with each other, and learn about different services and issues.
The Filipino Migrant Center has helped spearhead the yearly event, bringing to light the plight of overseas, undocumented Filipino workers.
For the past several months, Long Beach has been considering sanctuary city status — with recent immigration raids going on throughout the country, California legislators are considering a sanctuary state bill.
“We are really pushing for the city of long beach to declare this place a sanctuary city, a city that doesn’t cooperate with ICE or deportations,” said Alex Montances from the FMC. “A city that does not get funding; that does not share the information of undocumented immigrants with the federal government or with ICE. We want this to be a safe place because immigrants, documented or undocumented, are part of our community.”
Long beach is home to the country’s busiest port, and has seen many jump ship cases.
It was here at the Department of Homeland Security office, where the first known deported Filipino, Rey Galleon, was processed before his deportation.
With at least three Filipinos arrested by ICE nationwide in the past two weeks, Montances says, now is the time for Filipinos to be unified in this cause.
“It’s time for the Filipino community to protect our own kababayans — whether they’re documented or undocumented,” he said. “Filipino undocumented folks are the caregivers for our elderly. They clean out houses. They are part of our communities, so it’s time to take care of our folks. That’s what we need to do. We need to stand up and say deporting undocumented immigrants, Filipinos, or other immigrants, is wrong.”
While the city has shown sympathy and support for immigrants and their advocates, so far, only one city council member has publicly stated that they will push for a sanctuary city.
Other members say they are considering the sanctuary status, but are also cautious of the impact of federal funding.