Undocumented Pinoys find power in knowing their rights

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News


Many undocumented immigrants have been trying to lay low during these uncertain times.

“Teresa” is undocumented — and still unafraid. 

One reason she’s not worried is because she knows her rights.

“We are all vulnerable. We are all in danger we are all facing uncertainty, but still, I’m not afraid,” she told BA at the Pilipino Workers Center. “I’m not worried — I’m worried about them but right now we are all in this together. We are all standing together. We are solid.”

The Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles has been teaming up with other community groups, holding these workshops for Filipinos to know what to do if immigration officers approach them in public.

Don’t resist physically. Resist verbally, you can say, ‘I don’t consent to this search,’ they said.

While it’s not a guarantee that arresting officers will leave a person alone, these practices can be applied to home or outside.

Don’t open the door don’t sign anything and don’t answer any questions. Especially if they’re questions on where you’re from, your immigration status,” said David Abud of the National Day Labor Organizing Network.

Experts warn the undocumented to not say much if detained.

“I don’t give you permission to take my belongings, I don’t want to sign anything.”

But even with sanctuary city policies, and these know your rights workshops, federal officers may still arrest and detain people.

Once a person is in custody, it may be difficult to get them out right away.

Advocates say undocumented workers should know your rights, be ready to contact advocacy groups and lawyers, and to prepare for the worst case scenario. 

While Teresa worries about her daughter and granddaughter who live in another state, she also wonders about her belongings here.  

 “I’m going to do with my Converse shoes. I got a lot of pairs. I got a lot of hats. I’m worried about my artwork paint, I’m worried about life, if I’m going to lose my life in America but still I won’t be deported. I won’t allow people like ICE or federal officers… I’m not going to allow them to get me deported,” said Teresa.

 This activist is making sure neither she or her friends will have to cross that road. 

She’ll continue helping her fellow Filipinos, including a legal clinic with immigration lawyers taking place at PWC next month.


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