I had blogged earlier that during Obama’s visit to San Francisco where he gave a speech on immigration reform, he was heckled by an audience member. That person has now been identified as Ju Hong, 24, who is a UC Berkeley graduate who is also a member of Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE), where he shouted:
“I need your help. My family will be separated on Thanksgiving. Please use your executive order. You have the power to stop deportation.”
This was an organized and planned protest, as others from ASPIRE joined Hong in their protest, chanting, “Yes, you can. Stop the deportations! ASPIRE also issued a press release asking this question:
“Explain your legal analysis for why you, as the chief executive, do not have the authority to stop deportations today. An average of 1,100 immigrants are deported every day under your administration. How can you support immigration reform while at the same time brutally enforcing our broken immigration system at the rate and speed that you do? You referred to the holidays in your speech. Isn’t this the perfect time to finally exercise your executive powers to halt deportations and keep our families together? And won’t that put much needed pressure on the House to pass real immigration reform? We respectfully await your prompt response.”
Some quick research lead me to discover that Ju Hong is an undocumented immigrant and was interviewed in this online video last year when he was a senior at UC Berkeley:
I like the fact that Obama did highlight that immigration reform affects immigrants of all backgrounds, including Asians, as well as a Korean immigrant like Ju Hong making known his plight. However, in my opinion, the real barrier to immigration reform is not President Obama. It’s the far right Republicans in Congress. Even Obama had noted that his predecessor, President George W. Bush, tried to push comprehensive immigration reform, without much luck.
One thing that Hong did help highlight is that most people may not be aware of, but President Obama has actually been a much stronger enforcer of our immigration laws than Bush, at least in regards to when it comes to deportations:
I’ve known this fact for a while, but not sure why Obama has been more aggressive than Bush on this. Though I think everyone can agree for the deportation of criminal illegal immigrants.
As for myself, I think I have stated I am for immigration reform and the DREAM Act, however, I am also aware personally that many people have played by the rules as well. One of my best friends from undergrad waited 10 years after graduating, after being sponsored on an H1B work visa, then getting his Green Card, before ultimately becoming a U.S. citizen. But I definitely empathize with kids who grew up in the U.S. without even knowing that they weren’t American citizens.