Book by Pinoy explores unique Filipino-American-Latino perspective into undocumented aliens

Professor and author Anthony Ocampo addresses a packed room at Cal Poly Pomona

By Anna Ven Sobrevinas | FilAm Star Correspondent

Recently, the Supreme Court reached a deadlock on President Obama’s immigration reform plan executed in 2014. Texas led the 26-state suit versus Obama’s plan that diverted Congress. The plan aimed to grant at least four million undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2010, with no criminal record and with citizen or green card holder children, to be protected from deportation and be given work permits.

The executive plans in question were about the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and the expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Obama described DAPA as a measure to prevent families from being torn apart.

Dr. Anthony Ocampo, assistant sociology professor at Cal Poly Pomona, agrees. For him, undocumented immigration should be looked at as a human rights issue.

“The idea of someone’s mother, brother or daughter being plucked away from everything that they’ve known in American society is unjust,” said Ocampo. “It’s a violent thing to do. It’s going to be damaging not just for their families and communities but for this country as a whole because it totally goes against everything this country stands for – liberation, freedom, equality.”

Ocampo recently held a lecture at the university for his new book, The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race. Published this year, Latinos figures out how Spanish-Philippine history “collides with the demographic shifts of today to create both bonds and boundaries between themselves, Latinos, and other Asians.”

“We’re breaking the rules of race because people have very narrow ideas of what it means to be Asian, American and Latino,” he said. “Filipinos show that they have connections to all three, and people aren’t used to the idea that you can be more than one identity. Filipinos allow us to see how much versatility people have to identify with communities beyond just their own ethnic or racial community.”
Meanwhile, a 2015 study by New America Media found out that only one in four Filipinos eligible for DACA have applied; 15,000 are eligible but only 4,000 have applied.

In an interview with Balitang America, a DACA recipient said there’s a stigma in the Fil-Am community, citing that if it’s a “bad law,” people will treat others wrongly based on the law.

Deputy Consul General Jamie Ramon Ascalon encouraged eligible undocumented Pinoy immigrants to have faith in the program and use its free help with other organizations.

As for the stigma, Ocampo believes there are more undocumented Fil-Ams, UCs with undocumented student resource centers and leaders like Jose Antonio Vargas, being part of the movement to help fight for other undocumented immigrants.

“I think that in terms of numbers, the number of Filipino undocumented immigrants is not as large,” said Ocampo. “Because of that maybe there’s more of a fear for them to come out of the shadows because they might have a harder time finding people to connect to.”

Meanwhile, GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump continually talks about his immigration reform plans such as building a wall, ending birthright citizenship and bigger penalties for overstaying temporary visa holders.

For Ocampo, Trump’s rise has shown that undocumented immigrants no longer plan on staying in the shadows.

“One thing I’ve seen with the rise of Donald Trump is that I’ve also seen the resilience of the undocumented immigrant movement,” he said. “They’re unwilling to be afraid, and what’s amazing is they’ve built alliances with people who are not undocumented. I think the people that are against it are just ignorant about what undocumented immigrants are bringing to the table in terms of their contributions to society.”