by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — The Philippine government has said it won’t interfere with another country’s immigration policy.
However, that doesn’t mean they won’t help kababayans caught in immigration sweeps and deportation procedures.
As speculation of mass deportations and immigration sweeps invade Southern California, the Los Angeles Philippine Consulate has been active in keeping Philippine nationals informed.
The consulate gave a briefing to community members — many of whom are undocumented.
“We really want to give you assurance, but we also want give you a realistic picture of what’s happening,” said Dyan Pastrana, from the LA Philippine Consulate, at a recent briefing. “When we asked DHS and USCIS; they don’t know yet. There’s a lot of uncertainty pa. Because the executive orders that were issues were parang na hold; may staying sa implementation, ng elan executive order. But we’re still looking into every aspect as consulates, and our embassy in Washington DC are coordinating with each other.”
The consulate has been assured by immigration officials that they are not checking status and arresting people in public or conducting raids.
“They have prior information about this person na undocumented,” said Pastrana, “and he does not have the proper documents. So what they do is go to the person’s house. And arrest that person, detain that person… and if they don’t have your address, that’s the time they go to your workplace.”
The consulate has recently investigated rumors of raids at Filipino businesses, saying that the rumors aren’t true 00 and they would actually be among the first to know when ICE picks up undocumented Filipinos.
“It’s mandatory that they have to inform us. Kahit sabi nyo wag na mag informing Consulate, we will know,” assured Pastrana. “We know none who have been arrested for the past two months — since those orders were issued. We have seen an increase, but an expedited process… mostly those are with convictions. Wala pa natin na kita without.”
And while they monitor the situation the Consul General hopes to dispel one misconception.
“Some of our fellow nationals feel that the Consulate actually turns in undocumented people with immigration. We would like to dispel those rumors,” said Consul General Adel Cruz. “We’re here to help. In fact we do the same thing. We do not ask people if they are documented or undocumented if you are here to ask for any form of assistance from the consulate we immediately do so.
Consulate officials say concerned Filipinos should reach out to the consulate’s Assistance to Nationals program.
The LA PH Consulate can be reached at hotline 213-587-0758, or through email at LAPCG.ATN@GMAIL.COM.