LOS ANGELES – Filipino DREAMers and immigration advocates alike lauded the US Senate’s move on Thursday as 68 Senators voted to approve an immigration bill that many have been waiting for.
The once-in-a-generation immigration overhaul is seen by many as a relief, for over 11 million undocumented people in the United States.
While some claimed the passage of the bill as a historic victory, some of its provisions drew concern from DREAMers and advocates. These provisions included proposals on border control measures and the elimination of some family-based immigration categories.
“There are certain things in this bill that we are still not happy with,” Filipino Migrant Center advocate Alex Montances told Balitang America.
Montances said that the bill keeps families apart and militarizes US borders at the cost of $46 billion — an amount which he said could have gone to education and healthcare. Montances also pointed out that “unjust deportations” are still ongoing.
With the Democrat-controlled Senate voting in favor of immigration reform, all eyes are now on the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, regardless of the bill’s imperfections, Filipino DREAMers still feel upbeat on what they have seen so far, particularly with the victory in the Senate.
Jedi Jimenez (one of twin brothers who were brought here by their Filipina mother when they were still infants) said that he is glad that their mother will now have a pathway to citizenship. On the other hand, Jimenez was also sad that they wouldn’t be reunited with their other brothers.
Fil-Am Seth Ronquillo, an undocumented youth from UCLA, acknowledged that although the proposed legislation is not “a perfect immigration bill,” it is still “something that’s going to get us started at the right place.”
Ronquillo joined about a hundred advocates, DREAMers, and immigrants as they held a prayer vigil outside of the LA Federal Building that coincided with the Senate voting on Thursday.
“There’s only moving forward from here on,” Ronquillo told Balitang America.
During the vigil’s opening ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, Ronquillo called out to his fellow Filipino DREAMers and undocumented youth, saying that they have nothing to be ashamed of and that they need to empower themselves.
“If you’re undocumented, don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed. Kung wala kang papeles, huwag kang matakot, huwag mong ikahiya kung sino ka,” Ronquillo said.
(With reports from Balitang America)
(LA Midweek July 3-5, 2013 Sec A pg.1)