Former undocumented Pinoys now advocate for legal immigration

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 18, 2014

NEW YORK CITY, NY – Geuel Royce Penalosa came to the U.S. legally two weeks ago after a year and a half of waiting for his immigrant visa and more than 16 years after his mother left him in the Philippines to seek a better life abroad.

“Mahirap pero napakasaya. Siyempre free ka, dumating ka nang malinis, plantsado, magagawa mo lahat ng gusto mo,” Penalosa said.

His mother, Ressen Maranan, came to the U.S. legally on a tourist visa in 1997 but she overstayed her visa and became undocumented for about a decade.

“Namatay yung nanay ko, namatay yung tatay ko, hindi ko makauwi. Yung anak ko iniwanan ko sila nung five years old and 13 years old nung umuwi ako. Yung five years old naging 18 years old na,” Maranan said. “And then pag-nagkasama kayo, stranger kayo sa bawat isa. Malaking sakripisyo.”

But Maranan chose not to stay undocumented. She looked for an immigration lawyer and found ways to become documented.

She eventually received her green card via an employer’s 245-I immigrant petition a few years ago. She says she spent about $10,000 in immigration and lawyers fees.

“Ang mama ko pumasok siya dito undocumented pero hindi siya forever o nagpabaya na undocumented,” Geuel Royce said. “Gumawa siya ng ways para maging legal siya – maging documented siya dito sa New York.”

Maranan says she has mixed feelings when it comes to Filipino journalist-turned-immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas’ plight as a high profile undocumented immigrant.

“Para sa akin yung ginagawa niya in a way makakatulong yon kung ibibigay ng immigration or ng U.S. government yung hinihiling niya. Makakatulong sa mga undocumented yun,” Maranan said. “Pero para naman sa mga documented na nag-hirap, nag-spend ng malaking pera, unfair naman na eto na lang isusubo na lang sa bibig.”

Former undocumented immigrant Josey Dimaliwat said, “Sa ‘kin hindi siya nakakatulong dahil parang rebellion yun. May paraan naman para makakuha ng legal status.”

Dimaliwat came to the U.S. with a business tourist visa in 1990.

She overstayed her visa and became undocumented for 11 years. She later found an employer who petitioned her for a temporary work visa as a nanny.

She later got her green card through a teaching job in New York that petitioned her as an immigrant.

“Matatalino nga tayo eh. So kailangan talaga natin na yun bang hanapin yung talagang legal way para magkaroon ng papel,” said Dimaliwat.

Ernesto Pamolarco Jr. came to the US in 2005 with only a two-week valid tourist visa, leaving behind a huge family in the Philippines.

Before his six-month visa extension expired, he changed his status to an F-1 student visa.

While studying in New York, he found an employer who petitioned him for an H1B temporary work visa.

He later filed a green card application through his son who became a U.S. citizen after having worked for the U.S. army.

In 2010, he was reunited with his whole family in New York.

“Maraming option, either pwede kayo mag F-1 visa, pwede kayo mag O-1 visa, pwede kayo mag H-1, investment visa,” Pamolarco said. “Maraming mga options. Dun lang sa mga options na yun, walang dahilan para manatili kang illegal dito sa America.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • noz
    18 July 2014 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    illegal aliens that entered on foot are the only who came in the US without documents or papers. the rest entered america with documents or paper trails, the provisional visas granted to them were privilege, meant to be voluntarily abused by the unsuspecting beneficiaries. legal aliens with temporary visas have premeditated to breach their visas to become illegal aliens. the estimated 30 million illegal aliens, clearly are mixed with mostly hispanics illegally entering the US on foot without paper trails, deserving to be called undocumented illegal aliens. these bunch of breachers of visa privileges, afforded by the US government in good faith have labeled themselves to be called undocumented aliens for respect, part of their propagandas. these breachers should be called DOCUMENTED ILLEGAL ALIENS. no matter how you slice it, what these pro illegal alien propagandists are forcing to the throats of the populous, the fact will not change they are ILLEGALS period. america remain open for legal immigration, americans welcome legal aliens. applicants from around the world are all waiting for decades for the hard to get green cards. mind you, it will be much harder to get green cards for the patiently waiting applicants, with these uncontrollable illegal aliens, like viruses infecting the current government to lost control, a lame duck POTUS, that cannot deport these illegal aliens, to give way for legal aliens.

  • Juan
    19 July 2014 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Sa akin palagay si Antonio Vargas ay hindi siya ma-dedeport. Siya ay hawak ng Tides Foundation, funded by George Soros,isa sa frontman nang One world Gov’t. Ang pagkakamali ni Vargas ay nagpagamit siya sa mga Fil Legal Immigration lawyers, ngayon may problema na siya.Remember ang pumili at nagpanalo kay Obama ay ang One World Gov’t..Sa akin opinion ang agenda nang OWG ay flooding of Hispanic illegal alien dito sa America, para mapalitan ang mga White-Americakano sa Hispanic..Yaan ang utos kay Obama, ipinagpalit niya ang black community sa Hispanic,hindi niya gusto ito, but wala siyang magagawa, yaan ang otos.. Tayo’y mga Asian illegals tapos na ang TPS baka hanggang work permit nalang lang..okay narin.

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