Community outcry after Filipino activist detained in San Francisco is deported
SAN FRANCISCO — Chants of justice continued to fill the international arrivals terminal at the San Francisco International Airport.
Staged outside of the locked Customs and Border Protection office — Filipino-Americans and their allies have been a protesting for the release of Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba, a Filipino activist visiting the U.S. for a speaking tour.
Upon arrival, he was stopped by Customs and Border Protection and detained for over 24 hours, before being booked on a flight back to the Philippines.
During that time, the Filipino community came to his aid.
“We put the Philippine consulate on notice and made them do advocacy to get him out and to find out what’s happening to him,” said Terry Valen. We just wanted to know and finally they were able to find out and we were able to talk to him but that took a whole day of us mobilizing at the airport.”
Reverend Sadie Stone of the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns was at the consulate when she was able to speak to Aba.
Rev. Stone said that aba confirmed he was unharmed and fed.
He also requested a lawyer — however, he was told that a lawyer was not needed in his particular situation.
“I also asked him if they had indicated why he was held and detained and why he wasn’t allowed to fully enter the United States, and he said to me that they told him he had no business on US soil,” said Stone.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, in a statement from CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz, the agency does not consider country of origin or human rights activism to be determining factors for admissibility.
The Examiner also cites sources within the CBP that Aba’s application was denied due to an unspecified problem with his visa which they say is common.
Furthermore, the source says foreign nationals do not typically have access to an attorney until after they’ve been allowed entry.
These Filipinos still want to know the discrepancy.
“He had a US visa. A 10-year multiple entry b1/b2 visa to come in and out to do the human rights advocacy work that he was doing. The petitions from churches, from congressional offices for him to speak here were every reason to get here.”
The Filipino organizations say they are looking at all options to hold the Office of Customs and Border Protections and the Philippine government accountable for the alleged injustice to Aba.
They have also planned protests at federal buildings and US embassies across the nation and the world — in indignation for Aba’s denial and removal from the US.