BA Exclusive: Undocumented Filipino immigrant recounts deportation, Pilipino Workers Center rallying support

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News


The Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants has caught up with a Filipino, who has been living in the US without papers for seven years.

Rey Galleon’s American Dream came to an abrupt end on the morning of March 17th.

The former crewman who jumped ship is the first known undocumented Filipino in Southern California to have been arrested by ICE, since President Donald Trump took office.

He was an inactive member of the Pilipino Workers Center, and he reached out to them as he arrived in the Philippines.

Galleon had just dropped off his nine year old in school when he found people in his apartment complex, asking neighbors where he and his wife were.

He spoke to them, not knowing that they were immigration agents set out to arrest him.

When the officers let him go inside his place to change clothes, he alerted his wife, who is also in the country illegally.

She sneak out of the backdoor with one of their children.

“Narinig ko hinahanap nila ang misis ko, pangalan ng misis ko,” Galleon said. “Kaya lumapit ako, kasi sabi ko sa sa loob loob mas maigi kung ako na lang makukunan nila kesa asawa ko kasi may mga bata. Ako daw pala talaga hinahanap nila.”

From his home, ICE took Galleon to the Homeland Security office in Long Beach with an ultimatum.

“Pinapapili nila ako, kung uuwi ba ako or gusto nila made-detain kasi pag hindi raw ako makakuha ng ticket nang araw na yun, idi-detain na nila ako. Sabi nila hihintayin ako 6 months bago ako mapa-uwi. Nandun ako sa kulungan eh ayoko naman naman mangyari yun. Nag-sign ako na ‘sige uuwi ako’.”

He was then escorted to Los Angeles International Airport, and by 10 pm, Galleon was on a Philippine-bound plane, on a ticket that he paid for himself.

It was only at this time that he was able to speak to his wife.

In less than 24 hours, Galleon was no longer in the US.

Caught by surprise by ICE, and with no access to legal help, advocates say there could’ve been a different outcome if he was more informed.

With two US citizen children…and no  criminal record…they say he may have had a chance to fight off the deportation orders.

But they say that ICE agents will intentionally intimidate their targets, never telling them their rights.

“ICE, if you interact with them are trying to get you to sign your own voluntary departure,” said Aqui Soriano Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles. “He was asking for legal assistance, and they were ignoring that. In the end, they gave him false options because they told him he would be in at the detention center for six months.”

With no where to go, his wife and two children followed him home to Zamboanga about a week later…

The PWC is now trying to rally monetary and emotional support for his family.

One Comment

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  • Maria
    31 March 2017 at 1:22 am - Reply

    They must follow the immigration law. If they want to legalize apply the right way. Never go back door, for many are in line and follow the law. They are waiting for amnesty? So unfair, just look at the Visa Bulletin, it took almost 20 years before anyone applying can be issue an Immigrant Visa. I think Pres. Trump is in the right track, and fair enough to fix the broken immigration law by executive order.