SAN FRANCISCO – Dozens of immigrants and their supporters gathered in front of the San Francisco City Hall Wednesday afternoon, as part of a seven-city tour that calls for immigration reform.
About 400,000 immigrants were deported from the US last year, the highest on record. They said unless Obama stops these deportations, more and more families will be torn apart.
Shirley Tan and her partner Jay Mercado were almost split by deportation in 2009. Immigration law does not allow Mercado, a US citizen, to petition a same-sex partner.
Tan, a mother to two teenage sons lamented that everyday is a nightmare.
“There are many sleepless nights because my future in this country is uncertain,” she said.
A private bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein has allowed Tan to stay in the country, at least in the next two years.
But Mercado said immigration reform is the only way for them to feel secured.
“We’re not asking for additional rights. We’re just asking for the same rights as other Americans,” said Mercado.
But not all Filipino immigrants think everyone should be treated equally. Vivian Ronquillo-Ventura, who was petitioned by her father in the 1980s, said those who broke the law should suffer the consequences.
She said, “We came here the legal way. Those who did not should be given the same rights. That would not be fair to us.”
Ding Vedar, also became a US citizen through his father’s petition. But unlike Ventura, he believes the 12 million undocumented immigrants need to be legalized.
“They’re taxpayers too. They contribute to society too,” he said.
US Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a champion of immigration reform, said immigrants should have a united stand and show Obama what needs to be done to keep families together in a country they’ve always considered home.
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