Pinoy immigrant detained in 7-Eleven raids released from NY jail
NEW YORK — After spending a month inside the Hudson County Jail, Filipino undocumented immigrant Larry Villena posted bond, and was finally released on Wednesday afternoon.
“Anong masasabi niyo, Nakalabas na kayo? Masya po masaya, hindi ko ma-explain.”
Larry Villena was among the 21 people rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents last January 10, during one of its biggest crackdowns on companies suspected of hiring undocumented workers since President Donald Trump took office.
“Larry along with some coworkers were picked up during a workplace enforcements that happened when ICE came into his regular place of work, during his normal shift and started asking about people’s immigration status,” said Sean McMahon, his immigration lawyer.
Three other Filipinos who were arrested during the 7-Eleven store raids were released immediately. Only Villena was detained.
“Honestly a big mystery to me ah, there’s nothing in his record, in the file, when talking to the government attorney just now, there’s really nothing that will suggest that there are specific reasons why he was detained, it was almost seems arbitrary.”
Family, members of the Filipino community, together with Philippine Consul Art Romua attended Villena’s bond hearing to show their support for the Quezon province native.
“13 kaming nanduroon sa court, just for his case, punong puno yung court kami lang,” said Romua. “Nakita nila yung support ng community at saka yung Philippine Consulate.”
Villena, who has no criminal records, says he only came to the US to work and so he could give his family a better life.
“Yung mga tao na naghahanapbuhay lang tapos wala naming masamang intention sa bansa, so pabayaan na nila, yung mga masasamanag tao, talagang mag riminal yun na lang ang dapat na,” said Villena.
For Villena and the three other Filipino detainees, the fight to stay with their families here in the US is not yet over.
They’ll be back in court again – this time to face removal proceeding hearings.