By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

June 6, 2013

LOS ANGELES–It was believed to be the largest gathering of undocumented youth with one of the most high profile immigrant rights advocates Jose Antonio Vargas meeting them for the Immigrant Youth Empowerment Conference at the University of Calfornia Los Angeles.

Over a thousand young people attended the day long workshops where they learned about the immigration movement, as well as seek assistance on college and immigration relief programs.

“Can you imagine if you had more clinics like this where you can have undocumented college students coming together and be like oh I can go to college or mom and dad shouldn’t be so scared — especially for the Filipino community,” Vargas said after his keynote address.

The day long workshop was put on by UCLA’s IDEAS, an on-campus support network run by undocumented students, celebrating its tenth year.

“I think there’s tremendous energy and momentum around the country to support immigration reform. There is a growing recognition of the broken immigration system that we have that desperately needs repair,” .said Professor Kent Wong, who advises IDEAS, “if you look around today over a thousand immigrant youth who are gathered here, you see there is a tremendous need for this type of information.”

While the immigrant youth movement continues to grow stronger, advocates said there continues to be a divide within the Asian American and Filipino communities. Out of about a thousand people in attendance, only a quarter of them said they applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which gives relief to undocumented youth that meet certain criteria. Wong, believes part of the low numbers is because, some parents discourage their children from applying, showing evidence that Asian American families may not be participating in the immigration debate.

“As somebody who’s met with a lot of Filipino Americans across the country, I feel like we are not as politically involved as we should be and that it’s a real shame. We are the third largest immigrant group in the country and largest in California, what do we have to show for it? Balikbayan boxes is not enough to show for it,” Vargas said.

“They don’t want me to get involved because they were scared for me they didn’t want anything bad to happen to me but ultimately I think we need to understand as Filipino undocumented immigrants, is that people who benefit from government relief are the same people who get themselves involved,” explained IDEAS member Seth Ronquillo.

While ‘dreamers’ like Vargas and Ronquillo plan to continue bringing awareness on the immigrant rights movement, Vargas said he is optimistic that immigration reform—even if it’s imperfect — will become a reality soon.

10 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply to Cancel reply



  • jorge buesa
    6 June 2013 at 7:39 pm - Reply


    • Delia
      10 June 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Mr.Vargas committed repeated acts of fraud to which he has admitted such as

      (1) Frauduently obtaining a WA drivers license – not once, but twice

      (2) Deliberately using a falsified Social Security card to obtain employment and drivers licenses and other services

      (3) Lying and committing fraud when he would sign the INS form for employment and swear he is a citizen (and did it repeatedly)

      (4) False statements (fraud) on tax returns that he was a US citizen

      These are ALL crimes – and he is up to at least 15 – 20 counts and quite a few are felonies.

      One such crime would get him banned for life from ever immigrating legally.

      Forget getting a work visa – he is already in violation of immigration laws, tax laws, state and federal perjury laws…… Can’t get a work visa when you are an admitted criminal.

      He needs to get on a plane, go back to the Phillipines and hope the BBC will hire him to cover any country EXCEPT the US which will not let him back in even as a visitor.

  • Delia
    7 June 2013 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Americans want these pushy lawbreaking line jumpers to NEVER get legalized. We have more than enough qualified people who apply properly and do not break our laws to come illegally to fill all our need for immigrants. These ”criminigrants” who come illegally need to be expelled.

  • Xerex
    7 June 2013 at 7:38 am - Reply

    Jose Vargas, the reason why a lot of illegal/undocumented Filipinos do not participate in political gatherings is because they clearly understand that they broken the law by overstaying and continously breaking the law up to the present. As for kids brought in illegally, they had a choice when they became 18 : stay here and knowingly break the law everyday or go home to their home country. For those who were born here from illegal immigrant parents, they have every right to stay but the parents should be banned from becoming US citizens primarily because they have broke the law.

    Mr. vargas, ayaw lumabas ng marami kasi may delicadeza pa rin sila, mga tunay na filipino na hangad lamang ay tulungan ang mga naiwan na pamilya, at sil aay nahihiya kasi alam nila na simula’t sapul ay mali ang ginagawa nila. Ikaw Mr. Vargas, hindi ka nahihiya, baluktot ang paniniwala. Paikot ikot ang diskusyon pero ginawa ang batas para maging civilized tayo at sundin ang mag ito. Mr. Vargas, kasalanan ng mga lolo mo bakit ganyan ang status mo, sila ang tanungin mo.

    • Delia
      9 June 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

      For Jose Vargas, You are a criminal. Not just the crime of ilegal immigration, but crimes of falsifying gov’t documents and fraud. Instead of being patted on the head, you should have been tossed in jail and deported immediately upon release, along with the relative who helped you forge your papers.
      It is ironic that the very people refusing to follow the laws that hundreds of millions have, are the very people crying that the system is broken.
      Are you ready to change the laws against rape or murder, if rapists and killers decide the system is broken because there are laws against their desired behavior?
      And yes, it is the same thing. You, as a criminal, want us to change OUR laws, because YOU don’t want to follow them.
      Just because our politicians are afraid of the media and don’t want to insist our laws be enforced, does not mean that 302 million people agree. Not even the 40 million legal non-citizen residents agree.

      • buloknaisda
        11 June 2013 at 10:48 am - Reply

        Delia – stop being so overly conservative. Daig mo pa ang mga politiko eh ! Napaka swapang mo naman, bakit porke ba dumating ka dito na walang kahirap hirap eh dapat lahat ay maging tulad mo?? Walang kasalanan ang mga taong hindi legal ang mga dokumento dahil sila ay binigyan lamang ng oportunidad ng magandang buhay dito. Eh pano kaya kung ikaw ay tanggalan ng prebilihiyo na mamuhay ng tama dito sa bansang ito, ano ang gagawin mo??

  • jr(catholic counter capitalist)
    7 June 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I suggest to go to local Catholic Churches and get all Filipinos and Latinos involved on this social justice that the Catholic Church supports. Do you have any coming event up North, by SF Bay Area? Let us keep moving forward for a better America! This will only strengthen us as a nation and our economy. Thank God and keep blessing America!

  • Seth R
    9 June 2013 at 12:47 am - Reply

    When I first came to America, I lived amongst very conservative Filipino-Americans, and we had really strong opinions about “illegal immigrants.” Several years later, lo and behold, I myself became undocumented and it completely changed my understanding about the life of an undocumented immigrant.

    Most Filipinos came here as an immigrant, and it is a shame and hypocritical if we condemn other Filipinos who only came here for a better life for their families, when we know that the immigration policies are outdated and broken. I wonder–if you yourselves lose your immigration status when you first came here, what would you do? If you brought your kids here when they were 6 years old, and when you lost your status they are already 16 years old, would you willingly ruin their lives because of what you think is “right” and take them away from their American home? We need to put ourselves in the shoes of others before we begin judging them.

    Salamat po sa inyong pag-basa.

    • jr9catholic counter capitalist)
      10 June 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      God Bless you Seth! TThat was a heart felt story and post. Your goodness will shines….

    • O
      18 June 2013 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Go home, come back the legal way, do not teach your minors illegality is fine and acceptable. Get all legal aliens to America. Responsible, principled people know its time to leave, when their visas expired and not blame the system of the INS laws to benefits their wicked thoughts.