Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obama's immigration speech in deep-blue San Francisco interrupted by anti-deportation hecklers

Obama's immigration speech in deep-blue San Francisco interrupted by anti-deportation hecklers
By Josh Richman

POSTED: 11/25/2013 12:41:48 PM PST | UPDATED: ABOUT 24 HOURS AGO


President Barack Obama gives a speech on immigration reform at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, Calif. on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
President Barack Obama gives a speech on immigration reform at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, Calif. on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
Click photo to enlarge

US President Barack Obama speaks on immigration reform at Betty Ann Ong Chinese... ( JEWEL SAMAD )
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California's health exchange spurns Obama directive
SAN FRANCISCO -- With a diverse mix of immigrants lined up behind him, President Barack Obama set out in a speech Monday to hold House Republicans' feet to the fire for obstructing immigration reform. Instead he felt the heat himself as activists given places of honor heckled him for his administration's record number of deportations.

In an extraordinary example of how Obama often has been blindsided of late, the president turned to look back at what was supposed to be a panorama of supportive faces to find Ju Hong, a 24-year-old South Korean immigrant, shouting: "I need your help." Hong said families like his are being torn apart, and urged Obama to use his executive power to stop it. "Stop deportations, yes we can," Hong and others chanted, stunning the 400 people gathered for the speech at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center.

President Barack Obama, left, has his speech interrupted by Ju Hong, right on stage, who heckled him about anti-deportation policies, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. The young man shouted about his family being separated for Thanksgiving, and said Obama should use his executive power to stop this. "Stop deportations, yes we can," the man and other people chanted. The Obama stopped Secret Service agents who tried to remove the protesters. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) ( Pablo Martinez Monsivais )
Obama quickly called off Secret Service agents who had moved to remove the demonstrators.

"I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families," Obama said. "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so.

"But we're also a nation of laws, that's part of our tradition," he continued. "And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal."

With his job approval ratings near their nadir amid the botched technology and political pressures of the new health care law's rollout, Obama sought safe haven in a region he has always counted on for support. He barnstormed the Bay Area to try to return immigration to the headlines and to raise money for Democrats. Yet even at one of those fundraisers, an audience member's urging that he use executive powers to bypass a gridlocked Congress seemed to underscore that this president is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

Obama framed immigration reform as a moral and economic necessity in order for the nation to reach its potential. On Thanksgiving this Thursday, millions of American families will recall and retell their tales of immigration and self-sacrifice so their children could have better lives, he said.

"What makes us American is our shared belief in certain enduring principles, our allegiance to a set of ideals, to a creed, to the enduring promise of this country," he said. "The only thing standing in our way right now is the unwillingness of certain Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country."

Reform must include everything from stronger border security and holding employers accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, to eliminating the family-visa backlog, attracting more skilled entrepreneurs, and "providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows," Obama said. "This isn't just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do."

House Speaker John Boehner said last week that Congress must act on immigration reform, but he has refused to let the Senate-passed bill come up for consideration. His caucus is split over whether reform should include providing a path to citizenship for those already here.

"I believe the speaker is sincere, I think he genuinely wants to get it done," Obama said Monday, referring to Boehner. "But it's going to require some courage. There are some members of the Republican caucus who think this is bad politics for them back home."

"We can't leave this problem for another generation to solve," he said. "If we don't tackle this now, we're undercutting our own future."

But Hong -- whose mother brought him to this country at age 11, and who has qualified for "deferred action" under the Obama administration's policy -- was not convinced. He and his cohorts are affiliated with a group called ASPIRE, Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education. After the speech, he said it had been "a huge opportunity for me to be here and speak out," but he felt Obama had resorted to "political talking points" rather than addressing the protesters' concerns.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, was among several House members at the speech, and later Monday said he understands the protesters' anger: "Until we pass immigration reform, we're in a position where we've got both sides of the issue unhappy -- one side that rightfully thinks we're not doing enough, and one that fears we'll do something."

But some immigration reform advocacy groups said Obama is reaping what he has sown. The Obama administration has deported more immigrants annually than the George W. Bush administration, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

"The president has the power to halt his destructive deportations and must use it now," said Arturo Carmona, executive director of "Until he stops the deportations, we will only escalate against him and his policies further. He can't fool us anymore."

After the speech, Obama headlined a Democratic National Committee fundraising luncheon at the San Francisco Jazz Center before attending another fundraiser at the home of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, with about 30 tech executives who paid $32,400 each. Obama then flew to Los Angeles to headline two more Democratic fundraisers Monday night.

At the jazz center event, Obama spoke about the need to create jobs while restoring the nation's social safety net.

But when an audience member urged him to proceed by executive order -- much as the immigration protesters had in Chinatown -- Obama responded, "A lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem. Just sign an executive order and we can ... nullify Congress."

When the audience applauded, he said, "that's not how it works. ... There is no shortcut to politics. There is no shortcut to democracy. We have to win on the merits of the argument ... as laborious as it seems sometimes."

Josh Richman covers politics. Contact him at 510-208-6428. Follow him at Read the Political Blotter at

President Obama interrupted by former UC Berkeley student senator at immigration speech in San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama was caught by surprise Monday when a former UC Berkeley student government official interrupted his speech on immigration, demanding Obama take more action on the issue.

Obama, who was in San Francisco as part of a brief West Coast fundraising tour, delivered remarks calling on Congress to pass immigration reform legislation but found himself struggling to speak over a heckler who shouted that his family had been torn apart by U.S. immigration policy and asked the president to use an executive order to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Although the president spoke in favor of reform — saying it would strengthen border control, reduce the national deficit by $850 billion and grow the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next 20 years — Ju Hong, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012, remained unimpressed.

“My family has been separated for 19 months now,” he cried out. “I need your help … you have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country.”

As members of the Secret Service attempted to remove Hong, the president brushed them away and said he respected the “passion of these young people.”

Obama said, however, that he was unwilling to “violate the law” and act without Congress’ explicit approval, adding that if he could solve these problems without passing laws in Congress, he would.

“The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws,” Obama said. “What I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting.”

After the speech, Hong called Obama’s remarks “very disappointing.” Hong, who said he immigrated to the United States from South Korea without documentation at age 11, said Obama’s “political will” was weak.

“He blames Congress but not himself,” Hong said. “He said he’s in full support (of immigration reform), but he’s not doing anything. An executive order is not violating the law.”

Hong was part of a coalition of students from the San Francisco-based immigrant rights advocacy group Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education who were in attendance to “make (their) voices heard,” according to Dean Santos, a 23-year-old college student at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif.

Before Hong interrupted his speech, Obama emphasized the need to reform the path to citizenship for students and college graduates, saying the United States invites “the brightest minds from around the world to study” — many of them enrolled in the University of California system — but does not encourage them to stay.

“We end up sending them home to create new jobs and start new businesses someplace else,” Obama said. “So we’re training our own competition rather than inviting those incredibly talented young people … to stay here and start businesses and create jobs here.”

UC President Janet Napolitano, who recently announced that she would allocate $5 million in discretionary funds for undocumented students, was in attendance at Obama’s speech. Napolitano previously served as Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration before taking the UC presidency in October.

Many undocumented students and allies, however, have said that they still do not think Napolitano has done enough — and that no matter what action she takes, she cannot undo the harm to thousands of families that have been torn apart by legislation she enforced while working for Obama.

Hong said he was personally affected by of one of the Obama administration’s more controversial policies, Secure Communities, which allows local governments to turn in undocumented immigrants to federal immigration authorities.

Hong said that his family home was burglarized in 2010 but that his family was too afraid of deportation to call the police.

“Speaking in front of the president is scary,” Hong said of his decision to interrupt Obama’s speech. “(But) I was compelled to say what I had to say.”

Hong, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in political science, also protested Napolitano’s confirmation as UC president in July and has said he will continue to protest to raise awareness of inhumane deportations of undocumented individuals in the United States.

Before the interruption, Obama said in his speech that reform required bipartisan support, which he said he was optimistic about achieving.

“Immigration reform isn’t just the right thing to do,” Obama said. “It’s the smart thing to do.”

Sara Grossman is the executive news editor. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @saragrossman.

Jasper O'Leary · Santa Rosa High
Yes, being peaceful and orderly about the fact that current laws separate one's family must prove frustrating and fruitless. But, when somebody interrupts the president of the United States, gets saved from being dragged off by the secret service by the president of the United States, gets personally and quite reasonably addressed by the president of the United States, and then subsequently calls the president's remarks "very disappointing," ... really? Interrupting speeches *in favor* of immigration reform is no way to better the status quo for immigration reform.
Reply · 12 · · 6 hours ago

Karla E. Márquez · Napa Valley College
How many speeches on immigration reform have you heard? Ju has heard many, so has Dean, so have I. We've heard the same words thrown around for over a decade now. The disappointment he speaks of isn't in response to one speech - it's in response to policies supported by this administration and the façade that's been put up by his party that they are the only ones who understand and support immigrants. Someone had to speak up, and I am absolutely proud of Ju for finally calling out the president and - as Anderson Cooper would say - "keeping them honest."
Reply · 6 · · 6 hours ago

Jasper O'Leary · Santa Rosa High
I do sympathize with the Hong's cause, and I am aware of the regretful political stagnation that keeps people who are undocumented from covering any real ground in their struggle. At the same time though, I disagree with how Hong delivered his message. When you interrupt somebody like that, it only adds to the increasingly hostile rhetoric we've been hearing in politics. For example, do you think many people, after reading this article, will question their stance on immigration and think critically about the events which happened? Or, will readers only take note of how some person interrupted the president and keep it at that? I'm really glad Hong that audacity of "keeping [Obama] honest." But, as Obama himself responded, making changes to immigration policy is multifaceted and he is indeed being honest -- policy affects many people, not just immigrants, and everybody deserves to have a say. Sometimes you've got to be disruptive, but shouting demands for executive pardons should never take the place of reasoned debate, however hard it might be to get that debate going.
Reply · · 4 hours ago

Mario Arturo Mejia · UC Berkeley
I really don't understand why people would insult or look down upon Ju Hong for what he did. He used the only avenue he could to speak directly to the President of the United States about his struggle and his plight. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell the actual President how his policies and inaction has hurt so many families including his own. I find that to the be only logical thing to do: if you want to speak those in charge, actually speak to them. While he may have interrupted Obama, his message is important. I personally believed he should commended for truly embodying American ideals and values by questioning Obama and treating as him as he is, just a person. And there is validity to his argument. The President of the United States is the chief law enforcement agent in the Constitution. Should President Obama stop deportations, it would be done. He has taken similar actions of not enforcing certain laws before and it is perfectly within his realm of power to do so. So I see Obama merely excusing his inaction and placing the blame on Republicans as a political move with the costs of thousands of lives. If more people were like Ju Hong using their right of freedom of speech to express their opinions directly to their leader, perhaps real democracy can occur rather than politics in Washington.
Reply · 7 · · 6 hours ago

Connor Toscano · UC Berkeley
except Obama's response was right on point. Ju Hong asked the president for an an executive order to halt the deportation of his family, bypassing the legal legislative approached to solve the problem. That would be illegal and only solve problems based on the short term. As much as it may be difficult to actually get something through congress, it will just be as difficult to undo the work that Obama has put forth in the issue. And so I believe Obama's decision to not use any Executive privileges that so often blur the line between illegal and legal means of power and abuse of power is the right decision.
Reply · 6 · · 6 hours ago

Connor Toscano · UC Berkeley
plus using executive orders left and right just doesn't look good and will only lead to a more dysfunctional and disdainful congress
Reply · 2 · · 6 hours ago

Benjamin Leong
Bad form very inappropriate and rude
Reply · 3 · · 7 hours ago

Bernadette Ferriter · Top Commenter
Has anyone tried this trick in South (or even North) Korea, telling the presidents what to do during a public speech?? Lock this idiot up, then fulfill his wish - back home to the family in Korea, he misses so much
Reply · · 9 hours ago

Quang Milligan · Boston, Massachusetts
that kid is pretty brave if you ask me. He's not afraid to exercise a first amendment right that many of us citizens have. How many people have the courage to do what he did? Why lock him up? This is a free country after all.
Reply · 5 · · 9 hours ago

Bernadette Ferriter · Top Commenter
Quang Milligan: if "that kid is pretty brave", then he should join the military like real young American heroes are doing...he can get his citizenship that way, rather than through his selfish arrogance. He misses his family?? Don't you think the real Americans miss their families?? And, by the way, he has NO rights here, no First Amendment, nothing. He is taking a space for someone who has waited for years to become a citizen and should not be in this country at all. DEPORTATION FOR ILLEGALS
Reply · · 9 hours ago

Quang Milligan · Boston, Massachusetts
Bernadette Ferriter Hey I respect your opinion, but things aren't always black and white. There are those grey areas. All I'm saying is not a lot of people have the courage to even speak to the president about what concerns them.
Reply · · 9 hours ago
View 5 more
shugo_793 (signed in using yahoo)
Someone clearly doesn't understand how the US government works..
Reply · 3 · · 10 hours ago

Brian Pita · Anaheim, California
Reply · 2 · · 10 hours ago

Arata Goto · Volunteer Coordinator at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
Yes. That would cost us 580 Billion dollars. Please pick up the tab among yourselves.
Reply · 3 · · 8 hours ago

Joseph Yoon · Daly City, California
retards who say stuff like this should be deported. this is unamerican
Reply · · 3 hours ago

DREAMer Wins Student Senate Position at UC-Berkeley

University of California-Berkeley student senator Ju Hong, is one hundreds of undocumented students matriculating at the school.
BY MICAH UETRICHT | MAY 12, 2011 AT 11:28 PM

This article is part of our campaign on Immigration. Check out more reporting, research, and actions on Immigration →
Ju Hong has big plans.

An undergraduate at University of California-Berkeley, he is deeply involved in activism on campus, was recently elected to student senate, and plans on attending law school.

His only problem: He’s undocumented—one of the estimated 1.9 million undocumented young people in the United States.

Not that his immigration status has slowed him at all. “My personal struggle [with immigration has] made me stronger,” Hong says.

Hong was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1989. His parents were small business owners and he says his mother and father worked hard, but struggled to provide for their family.

“We faced tremendous financial difficulties,” Hong says. “We were barely surviving. I ate one or two meals a day.”

When Hong was 11, the family flew to the U.S. on tourist visas. Their visas eventually expired, but they did not leave. And Hong had no clue his family had suddenly and quietly become members of the population of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. estimated at 12 million.

During his senior year in high school, Hong was filling out a college application that asked for his social security number. He didn’t know what to write, so he went home and asked his mom what his number was. Her response left him floored: their family had overstayed a tourist visa from South Korea, and they were all undocumented citizens. He didn’t have a social security number.

“I became a totally different person,”he says. “I became totally distant from people. I avoided questions like, ‘what college are you going to?’ ‘Why don’t you have a driver’s license?’ ‘Why don’t you have a job?’ ”

And added to that, he felt pressure from his own community. “There’s a lot of cultural stigma within the Korean community” about being undocumented, he says.

He enrolled at Laney Community College, in Oakland through an affidavit under state law AB540, a bill that was passed in 2001 by former Gov. Gray Davis (D) that allows undocumented students to attend public universities and pay in-state tuition. Hong kept his head down, avoiding discussions of his status—until he heard about undocumented students who came out of the shadows and proclaimed their status to the world, particularly the story of fellow Californian and University of California-Los Angeles student Tam Tran. Tran was killed in a car accident last year.

“Tam Tran's story stood out because…her situation was quite similar to mine,” Hong says.

“I was inspired—[other undocumented youth] were taking such a great risk,” Hong says. “I realized that there were people out there just like me, who were having a difficult time as undocumented students,” but were out.

Slowly, Hong felt himself returning to his old, outgoing self. He began a blog—anonymous, at first—on being undocumented. Then, in 2009, he took a big step by deciding to come out as undocumented on YouTube.

The same year, Hong ran for student body president at Laney College and won, becoming the school’s first Asian-American and first undocumented president.

Hong soon decided to transfer to Berkeley and ran for student senate as a part of the CalSERVE Coalition, a progressive slate of senators. There are somewhere between 340 and 630 undocumented students at Berkeley, according to the university president’s office, and Hong says the those students lack real representation in student government.

“A lot of AB540 students feel like they’re alone, like they don’t have any support. I want to show them that they do. My main constituents were undocumented students. They appreciate the fact that I bring their voices to our campus, and to make sure that they continue to have access to higher education.”

In April, Hong found out he won, making him one of a small handful of undocumented students elected to student government around the country. He plans to push for policies that would make the campus more welcoming to students without papers.

After graduation, Hong hopes to become an immigration attorney, to help guide other immigrants through the maddening American immigration maze. And he plans to continue organizing for legislation for undocumented students. His dream of attending law school can�t be fulfilled without the passage of legislation that would legalize his and other undocumented students� statuses, so he is willing to put his own tenuous immigration status on the line.

“I’m really at a level where I’m ready to take a risk to push the Asian American community to help push the DREAM Act,” he states. “So many people are suffering in our community. I don’t want that to happen in the next generation.”

Micah Uetricht is a staff writer with Campus Progress. You can follow him on Twitter @micahuetricht.

Dream Act as an Equalizer
This entry was posted on March 21, 2012. Bookmark the permalink.
Hong on the Dream Act
Ju Hong, ASUC senator 2011-2012

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a student on the UC Berkeley campus with a strong message to undocumented students everywhere. Ju Hong, a Junior at Cal and student senator was endorsed last year by the AB540 community as their representative in student government. After a successful campaign, Hong is about to complete his 1-year term in office, but his advocacy for the undocumented community will continue, as well as his drive to improve their educational attainment opportunities.

He began to become politically active after realizing his own status. After researching immigration issues, he began to get involved in non-profit organizations and became more politically conscious in the process. In his opinion, the only way he was going to make positive changes was by way of involvement and AB540 representation in the student government, and that’s exactly what he did!

I asked him a few questions about his opinions of the Dream Act, both the California and the federal versions of it. Even though the CA Dream Act has already passed, it is important to understand why it is a just and necessary piece of legislation and Hong covered very crucial ground as to its relevance. First of all, both AB 130 and AB 131 are the assembly bills that together complete the CA Dream Act. AB 130 allows for undocumented students to apply and qualify for private grants and scholarships that normally require a social security number. AB 131 similarly allows for students to qualify for state financial aid. Now, whether undocumented students are deserving of this money or not is what is contested in the Dream Act debate. Hong explains how all undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition if they do not qualify for AB 540, the bill that allows undocumented and out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition if they meet certain requirements. AB 540 waives the extra $10,000 out-of-state fee for those who qualify, but before the Dream Act passed, these students still had to come up with a way to pay the rest of tuition fees without help from many available scholarships or financial aid. For many, either their immediate and extended families have had to unite to help pay the cost of their schooling, or the students simply rely on private scholarships open to AB 540 students which are not as abundant as scholarships available to US citizens. This huge obstacle in itself is tremendous discouragement for undocumented students who learn of their undocumented status the minute they try to apply for FAFSA in high school and realize they can’t because they don’t have a Social Security Number. Once they realize they do not qualify for financial aid, it may be too late for some to try to come up with the money to attend a university the following year.

A huge inequality issue, Hong says, is the fact that the financial aid money that all low-income students receive comes from tuition fees. Undocumented and AB 540 students pay these fees and are also very likely to be low-income, but do not qualify to receive any of the aid that they are contributing to. Similarly, tuition fees, paid by all enrolled students, are used to fund many different resources on campus, some of which students without a social security do not qualify for, such as work study jobs or anything that requires that SSN. Now that the Dream Act has passed, these students get a piece of the pie that they helped to bake in the first place. Others would also argue that undocumented students and their families do not pay the state taxes that generate funds for financial aid and therefore don’t deserve to benefit from it. However, Hong clarifies that undocumented families not only pay income taxes, but also sales tax and have to file taxes every year just like other families, which is a topic you can read more about in my previous post, Demystifying the Facts. In that sense, the Dream Act is an equalizer because it gives undocumented students the financial aid that they need and deserve because they are tax-paying and are of low-income status. Hong argues that most of these undocumented students were brought to this country as babies and therefore grew up here just like other American students, so “why not educate them and allow them to contribute to our workforce and society in a more productive way?”

Hong at Sather Gate
Ju Hong at UC Berkeley's Sather Gate
As far as the demographics of the population that is affected by the passing of the Dream Act, this only includes AB 540 students. AB 540 students are either undocumented or out-of-state students who completed 3 years of high school or more in California. They must also fill out an affidavit which is a written promise from the student to the university pledging that they will actively work on the adjustment of their status. The demographic that comprises that AB 540 population is a little different than many expect. 46-48% are Asian and about 50% are Chican@/Latin@. Of that “Asian” category, 70% are Korean, 16% are Chinese and 13% are Philipino. Hong points out that it is interesting that many assume immigration and undocumented issues are a Latin@ issue, but clearly they are not, since almost half of the undocumented population falls under the category of “Asian.”

The UC Berkeley campus has actually shown a lot of leadership in the obtaining and dispersing of scholarships to undocumented students this past January. Current chancellor Robert Birgeneau has been instrumental not only in the advocacy process prior to the passing of the CA Dream Act and in the current fight for a federal Dream Act, but also in the implementation of an AB 540 student scholarship committee on campus. At the start of 2012, 130 people received the AB 130 scholarship at UC Berkeley, which was up to $8,000 of potential aid based on financial need. The GPA requirement for this scholarship was a 3.0, which is higher than that of many other scholarship applications.

Living in California, says Hong, is a great privilege because it has taken very liberal and progressive stances on many issues pertaining to immigrant rights. Currently, assemblymember Gil Cedillo is working on apiece of legislation that if passed will allow qualifying undocumented folks the opportunity to get a Driver’s License. Another upcoming piece of legislation will allow folks a work permit. AB 540 students currently graduate from college with very limited opportunities thereafter. This law would get rid of the AB 540 student’s dilemma of what to do after graduation and allow them to continue to pursue their educational and/or career goals. Even though we have so far been able to pass AB 540, AB 130 and AB 131, there is still plenty of work to do! Hong advises that undocumented students and allies outreach to the younger generations and educate them on the struggle that it was to get to where we are now and on all the work that there is still to be done. He fears that the passing of the CA Dream Act might lead too many to take a less active role in the activism or the undocumented community in general, but he wants to urge people to continue to remain mentally present in the continuing struggle for undocumented student rights. We must continue to advocate for not only the federal version of the Dream Act, but we must also remain conscious of all the work that will continue to be a priority in the struggle for equal rights for the immigrant community.

Story of Ju Hong, a Dreamer
By Ju Hong · April 16, 2013

538232_10151151440426982_1323909133_n_(2).jpgMy name is Ju Hong and I am an undocumented immigrant.

I was born in South Korea on October 23rd, 1989. In South Korea, my parents had a Japanese restaurant in downtown Seoul. Due to the economic recession, my parents hardly made any income from our business.

Shortly thereafter, my parents filed for bankruptcy. In the following year, my mother and my father decided to divorce. After that, I lived with my mother and my older sister, barely able to afford to buy food and a place to stay in South Korea.

In 2001, my mother made a bold decision – she left everything behind and decided to move to the United States to seek a better life for my sister and me. However, once we arrived in the United States, we faced a different set of challenges.

As a single parent, it was hard for my mother to raise my sister and me in a new country. She worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, sacrificing her time and energy to support my education and provide food on the table each day. She was and still is exhausted and overwhelmed after work.

Like my mom, my sister works full-time. Until recently she attended community college at the same time but because of financial difficulties, she had to drop out. My sister had the chance to attend more prestigious colleges and universities. Instead, she is 27 years old and working two shifts at a restaurant, mopping floors, and washing dishes, while her friends are experiencing college life.
Ever since I moved to this country, I grew up just like many other American students. I went to public school, spoke English, joined student groups, and participated in sports team. Most importantly, I had a dream – a dream to go to college.
During senior year in high school, I was filling out a college application that asked for a social security number. Since I didn’t know what to write, I asked my mom about my social security number. Her response left me with confusion. I learned that my family had overstayed a tourist visa from South Korea. We are undocumented immigrants.
At first, I didn’t know what it meant to be undocumented until I realized I was unable to get a job, obtain a driver’s license, or receive any governmental financial aid. Worst of all, I was and still am at risk of being deported at any given period of time.
Knowing that I have limited opportunities due to my immigration status, I felt discouraged to continue to pursue a higher education. But as I remembered how my mother sacrificed her time and energy to support my education, I decided to stand strong and reaffirm my dreams of attending college once more.
I enrolled at Laney College in Oakland California under the state law AB540, which allows undocumented students to attend public universities and pay in-state tuition. Once I learned more about AB540 and the DREAM Act, I became hopeful and more motivated to continue to pursue a higher education. As I learned more, I also discovered stories of other undocumented students. When I saw other students risking their lives to share their testimony about their immigration status, I became inspired. That’s when I wanted to be active in a community and let my voice be heard. Not only did I want to empower other undocumented students, but I also wanted to make a difference in pushing for legislation that would affect me and my family, and also other immigrant communities, in a very positive way. I had ambitious dreams.
At Laney College, I was the president of the Asian American Association student organization. As the president, I spread awareness about Asian Pacific Islander issues through cultural events, workshops, and town hall meetings.
In sophomore year, I became the first Asian American and the youngest student body president at Laney College. I managed and balanced a Student Body budget of $90,000, governed 25 student clubs and organizations, and represented 14,000 diverse students on campus. Furthermore, I have organized more than 500 students to attend Sacramento to protest California educational fee hikes that are affecting students, especially students of color and low-income students.
After two years at Laney College, I graduated with a 3.8GPA before I transferred to the school of my dream: UC Berkeley.
In the summer of 2011, six other undocumented students and I took part in an act of civil disobedience to empower young undocumented immigrant youth across the nation and to protest the inhuman treatments of immigrants. We sat in the street nearby San Bernardino Valley College and submitted to arrest. We were taken to jail. This is the first time in California, when undocumented youth participated in non-violent civil disobedience. I am also the first Asian American undocumented student in the country to participate in a civil disobedience action.
At UC Berkeley, I ran for student government senator and was elected as the very first undocumented student government senator in UC Berkeley history. As a Senator, I have managed and balanced the UC Berkeley’s student government $1.7 million budget along with 19 other elected senators. Moreover, I managed more than 1,000 student clubs and organizations, and advocate on diverse issues related to health care, affordable education, and academic services. Furthermore, I chaired the standing committee on university and external affairs that makes recommendation on all matters of educational policy. Though my term as a senator has ended, I am still involved in student government and different nonprofit organizations to support students to attain higher education at the four-year university.
I am an undocumented student. I came to the United States when I was 11-years old. I have been living in the United States for the past eleven years. I graduated from high school in 2008, attended Laney College until 2010 and transferred to UC Berkeley. I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012, and I am currently pursuing a master’s program in Public Administration at San Francisco State University. Once I finish my master’s program, my goal is continue to work in a nonprofit organization, providing services and resources to underprivileged immigrant communities. Ultimately, my simple dream is to live a decent life with my family in this country I call home. My only intention is to contribute to make this great nation a better place.
In fact, 11 million undocumented immigrants also have that similar dream as I do. This is why we need to pass a fair and humane comprehensive immigration reform this year in 2013. There are too many talented undocumented immigrants dropping out of school and immigrant family members are being torn apart due to our broken immigration system. This year, we have a chance – a strong chance to not only solving our broken immigration system but also protecting the dreams of next generation of immigrants in this great country. So let us organize, mobilize, and take collective actions to ensure our voices are heard and push for immigration reform. This is the defining moment in our history – and the time for immigration reform is now.
-Ju Hong
Ju is a student in the Master’s program in Public Administration at San Francisco State University. He hopes to continue to work in a non-profit organization, providing services and resources to underprivileged immigrant communities. Eventually, Ju wants to become a public servant, represent and serve a diverse group of people in the great state of California.
Tagged Ju Hong Tagged Dreamer Tagged Dream Act Tagged Im

UC Berkeley student Ju Hong: Undocumented and unafraid
August 3, 2011 11:00 am by Diana Arbas

Ju Hong being arrested at the July 12 rally in San Bernardino. Photos: William Perez
Ju Hong looked tired. Uncharacteristic stubble peppered his chin and there were shadows under his eyes when we met at a Temescal coffee shop. But then again, he’d had a crazy week. Most Cal students spend the warmer months taking summer courses, doing internships or catching up with hometown friends and family. Hong, an ASUC senator-elect and political science major, spent time in jail.

Police arrested 21-year-old Hong and six other undocumented student activists for blocking a major street at a July 12 San Bernardino immigration rally. They were released 12 hours later, but might now be at risk for deportation. An ICE agent told the activists they might be ordered to an immigration court hearing in a few weeks, Hong said.

The act of civil disobedience was meant to empower undocumented youth and protest immigrant mistreatment, Hong wrote in a public statement. Among the central issues at the rally was support for the California Dream Act, which would enable undocumented students to qualify for state-administered financial-aid programs. Part of the bill was signed into law on July 25 by Governor Jerry Brown.

Hong has watched undocumented friends forced to take time off school to save enough money to pay rising tuition fees. Some even had to drop out altogether because college was too costly without financial aid. Other undocumented students have been arrested and deported. There are too many stories, Hong said, including his own.

“This is my last year at Cal. After I graduate, now what? Even with a degree from UC Berkeley, I cannot legally work,” Hong said.

“Ju’s been so tired of the situation,” said Lisa Chen, Asian Law Caucus community advocate. “He needed to do something, and this is what he felt like he needed to do. So when he called to tell me he planned on getting arrested, I was not at all surprised. It was only a matter of when, not if.”

Hong said that the Dream Act movement is growing, “And I want to push a little bit more.”

Before the activism

Hong came to the United States with his mother and older sister when he was 11. Family friends met the new arrivals at SFO and took them to the Union Square Cheesecake Factory. The eighth-story view of the city bewildered Hong.

“I couldn’t eat at all,” he said. “Everything was big. There were so many white people, black people. In Korea, everybody’s Korean, they all speak Korean, the culture is the same. So it was such a new experience for me. Everything was so busy. Oh my goodness, everything was so overwhelming.”

Hong adjusted soon enough. He later attended Alameda High. He ran cross country and played on the basketball, volleyball and rugby teams.

Ju Hong during the San Bernardino rally
Tin Tran, Hong’s best friend, said Hong has always been a very outgoing and friendly person. “He has this willingness to talk and smile, laugh and make people laugh. It makes him so approachable,” Tran said.

Tran said he would hang out at Hong’s home and rarely see his friend’s family around.

Hong’s mother has two jobs. “She wakes up around 6 a.m. and comes home around 11 p.m.,” Hong said. “She does that for six days. She only gets rest on Sunday. Then she goes to church. She’s a strong woman.”

Hong’s sister, who rises at 4 a.m. and comes home at 8 p.m., also splits her time between two jobs. She left community college some years ago due to financial difficulties, and now works to support her younger brother’s education at Cal.

On the rare occasion that Tran would see Hong’s mother and sister he said, “It’s always a smile. Always hugs. It’s humbling to see that they’re really kind, even though they’re working so much. They would always offer fruit and snacks. The hospitality was off the charts. That made me feel welcomed. That drew me closer to Ju.”

As an upperclassman in Alameda, Hong buckled down on academics with an eye on getting into a good college. Hong began filling out college applications but didn’t know what to put down for his social security number. He asked his mother about it.

“That’s when she told me I didn’t have one,” Hong said. He then learned that he was undocumented. He and his family had come to the U.S. on tourist visas and stayed past expiration.

Hong didn’t know at first what being undocumented meant. He applied for college anyway and won admission to UC Davis. “I was so happy,” he said. “I was literally crying. I worked so hard. That acceptance letter showed that I deserved to go to that prestigious university.”

Tran said that only a few classmates had gotten into the school. “UC Davis was just rejecting people left and right. There was this 4.0 kid who did volunteer work and wrote a great personal statement. We were all surprised: ‘Dang, you didn’t get into UC Davis?’” Tran began to laugh. “When Ju got in, he was ecstatic.”

The celebration didn’t last. Hong said, “Even though I knew I couldn’t get a job or financial aid, my mom said, ‘If you really want to go that school, go for it. Don’t worry about the money.’”

The reality, though, was that his family couldn’t afford it, especially not without financial aid.

Back at the coffee shop, Hong held an invisible admissions envelope in his hands and stared at it as he told this story.

“So I closed the package, put it in the desk and just let it go,” he said, his hands putting the invisible envelope away, letting it go. “It was a bittersweet moment.”

Learning to be a leader

Hong enrolled at Laney College, where he eventually became both the first Asian-American and youngest student body president. (That’s how we met. I reported on the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) under Hong’s leadership for the Laney Tower, the student newspaper.)

Brian Cervantes, ASLC president-elect, remembers Hong as “a charismatic young man,” but reserved some criticism for Hong’s youth and inexperience. Hong was 19, serving a student population of which 57% was 25 years old or older in 2007, according to the district’s most recent data for student demographics.

Hong also served low-income students and their families; students of color from black, Latino and Asian communities and international students. “It was quite an honor,” he said, “It was a lot of pressure, too, because I’m an Asian and I’m young. So people tested me in many different ways.”

“I liked him as a kid, as a young man,” Cervantes, 39, said, “but he wasn’t ready for that type of leadership. I mean, you used to sit in those meetings and you saw how poorly ran they were. The topics we talked about didn’t have any substance, or we never came up with solutions for those problems.”

Cervantes also criticized what he saw as Hong’s single-issue focus on the Dream Act movement. “It’s admirable, but as president you have to look at the bigger picture. I was always trying to push Ju to work on the broader issues that affected all students at Laney.”

Hong said that he’s familiar with Cervantes’ honest if tough feedback — the two talked nearly every day during their time together on ASLC — and that his presidency was definitely a learning experience. Hong dealt with the broad demands of student leadership, like learning how to influence education policy, work closely with campus administration and speak to media. (“I had to talk to you,” he said, laughing, “and you always asked me tough questions.”)

All this was balanced with life as an undocumented student worker — no driver’s license, under-the-table work. “During his Laney days,” Tran said, “Ju did a lot of biking. I remember talking to him at school, seeing him walk around Laney in Oakland. That night, I would be in Berkeley. I would eat where his family’s former restaurant was, and he was there working until late.”

“In the end, I learned how to be a leader,” Hong said. He’d learned how to balance the needs of such a diverse and outspoken student population and not just the needs of the AB 540 community (AB 540, the California Immigrant Higher Education Act, allows eligible immigrant students to pay in-state tuition, but does not change their immigration or residency status or make them eligible for state or federal financial assistance). Because of this ASLC experience, Hong ran for student government again once he transferred to Cal. “I knew how much impact I could make as an ASUC senator.”

Still, Hong said, Cervantes was right. “In a way, the main reason I ran for student government was to really help out my community. I felt that we needed more API [Asian and Pacific Islander] and AB 540 representation in student government. That’s what got me into activism — the Dream Act, undocumented students and immigrant rights issues.”

Undocumented and unafraid

More undocumented students are coming out and leading the Dream Act movement, but Hong’s public participation is unusual. Undocumented APIs like Hong are generally invisible. The Contra Costa Times reported that Hong “wanted to put an Asian face to a contentious debate that often is focused on Latinos.”

Chen said it’s important to remember that Hong is one of many undocumented API youth. She works closely with ASPIRE, an undocumented API student group. According to the 2010 AB 540 UC report, 47% of the UC system’s AB 540 students identify as Asian. Of these students, 257 are potentially undocumented.

Yet others are unaccounted for. “Many undocumented students are in the community colleges and CSUs. They just don’t have that information readily available,” Chen said.

Still, the API community does not talk about its undocumented members. Chen said, “There’s a lot of shame and stigma that has a lot to do with how the story of being undocumented is talked about. A lot of ASPIRE students say that only fellow group members know about their status. Culturally, we’re just taught to keep family business to ourselves.”

Ju Hong during the sit-in before the arrests on July 12.
Hong said that he’s different than other Asian undocumented students: “I was raised by a single mother. She always worked, so I didn’t have much supervision. Even though she doesn’t want me to speak out, she’s not always there to tell me what to do. With my own space, I could do things that I really wanted.”

Hong used that space to research AB 540 and the Dream Act. He contacted organizations like ASPIRE, got involved and learned more about the issues. At Laney, he began giving AB 540 workshops. He bought hundreds of copies of Underground Undergrads and resold them on campus as a fundraiser. He came out as undocumented on YouTube.

“And then the arrest happened. It’s a crazy thing,” he said. “It’s a process. It took me a couple of years to get to where I am right now.”

Risking deportation

On July 12, Hong rallied with fellow Dream Act activists at San Bernardino Valley College. About 200 people were there. The participants chanted, shared their testimonies and took to the streets.

“As soon as the police came, we sat down.” Seven activists, Hong among them, sat on a large poster with the words, “We will no longer be silent,” and, “No SB 1070,” protesting Arizona’s notorious anti-illegal immigration law. About 20 police surrounded the activists and arrested them.

Hong and his friends were in jail for 12 hours. “We didn’t know how long we were going to stay there,” he said. “There was no clock. The lights were on. We didn’t know if it was morning or at night or anything like that.”

Hong said he felt scared. “We were arrested, handcuffed. I knew there is a risk. I might get sent to an ICE detention center. There was no guarantee that I’d get out.”

But a lot of people on the outside supported him. He had six fellow activists with him, too, and they’d begun chanting, “Isang Bagsak!” Hong writes in his public statement that this Filipino unity cry (“one down, one fall!”) means standing together and fighting for justice.

“By the time they were chanting, ‘Isang Bagsak,’ we were very strong. I wasn’t scared at all after that,” he said.

Tran said he was scared for his friend, though. “The first thing that comes to mind is his well-being. What was comforting was he was doing it for the right purpose, the right cause. He’s sacrificing his well-being for the undocumented community. I can say, ‘I may not like that you’re doing this, but at the end of the day I support you and your purpose.’”

Hong had planned his act of civil disobedience two months in advance but didn’t tell his mother until two days before. “The thing I worried about most was how I was going to tell my mom,” he said. “That’s what stressed me out most. Getting arrested, that was least important.”

Hong told his mother over the phone because he was already in southern California. “She started crying,” he said. “She was worried. But at the end of the conversation, she was very supportive. And she prayed for me on the phone.”

In a few weeks, Hong will find out whether or not he will be ordered to an immigration court hearing and begin the deportation process. “The waiting game is psychologically stressful,” he said.

Hong said he has to be mentally prepared for anything. Fall classes at Cal will be starting up soon. There, he’ll continue working toward a future that would include working as an immigrant rights organizer, going to law school then beginning a career as an immigration attorney. Or, if he gets deported, he has to start a new life in South Korea.

“I’d have to serve two years in the army. I haven’t been to Korea in 10 years, so I don’t know what the heck is going on there,” he said.

Cervantes said he remembered Hong always working under the assumption that the Dream Act would pass. “I was raised in Texas. I’m not conservative, but I’d always tell him, ‘These are the type of people you’re fighting against.’”

Cervantes said he’d feel bad if Hong was deported. “I wish him luck. Hopefully the decision that he made doesn’t come back and hurt him and his family. That’s a hard decision to make. I don’t wish him to be deported. I think he’s an effective member of society. I don’t even think he drinks. He’s always been involved in school and doing stuff.”

Tran tries not to talk about deportation with Hong. “We remain optimistic,” Tran said, “but if Ju were to leave, it would definitely be a heartbreaking experience. Words can’t describe how heartbreaking it would be. For a person of his caliber to be deported would not only be heartbreaking for me but a great loss for our community as well.”

There’s a 50-50 chance that Hong will start his deportation process, Chen said. “If he does, then he’ll fight it, just like everyone else has. And he’ll have a whole community behind him to fight it.”

Hong said that as an Asian undocumented student, it’s his duty to get the Asian community to come out of the shadows and work on the immigration rights issue.

“We have to work together,” he said. “The Dream Act will only pass when the Asian American community comes out on this issue. Also the gay community, white community, black community — support us. If the Latino community is the only one supporting this issue, it’s not going to go anywhere.”

Hong urges everyone to learn more about immigrants’ rights. “I respect whatever your stance may be, but be open,” he said. “Listen to our stories.”

Diana Arbas first reported on Ju Hong for the Laney Tower, when Hong led Laney College as ASLC president. Arbas has since transferred to Mills College, where she studies creative writing and journalism. She is currently interning at Berkeleyside.

SeanLM • 2 years ago
Good for him for having the courage to stand up for what is right. It's terrible that he could be ripped from a country he's grown up in and that has become his home, for lack of proper documentation.

Unfortunately, the anti-immigrant tide is at its high-water mark - I'm not optimistic about the Dream Act or any other kind of immigration reform. Still, we have to keep pushing.
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The Sharkey SeanLM • 2 years ago
"Good for him for having the courage to stand up for what is right. It's
terrible that he could be ripped from a country he's grown up in and
that has become his home, because his parents brought him here illegally, and he continued to live in the country illegally long after he learned what his true immigration status was."

Edited for accuracy.
He wouldn't be deported for not having the correct documentation.
He would be deported for coming to the country under false pretenses, violating the terms of his guest visa, and violating American Immigration & Customs laws.

I would like to point out that being against illegal immigration is not the same thing as being against all immigration. Many of the people I know who hold the harshest views about what should be done with illegal immigrants believe that the legal immigration process should be made much easier.

Part of the reason that anti-immigration sentiment in America is so strong right now is that our economy is still in the toilet. Job creation is lagging behind the population growth of legal American residents. It's hard to convince folks that we need to be letting more immigrants into the country when 10% of the people who are already here can't find jobs.
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SeanLM The Sharkey • 2 years ago
The Sharkey, it has never been my experience that people who are the most strongly against illegal immigration are also most in favor of making legal immigration easier, but I haven't met every American ever, so it's entirely possible that these people exist. That's good news!

Would these people support Comprehensive Immigration Reform that includes a large and easy to use guest worker program that doesn't exploit its clients, and a system for admission that allows anyone of sound mind and body, who can demonstrate they will become self-sufficient, into the country after a relatively short waiting period (say, maximum five years)? Maybe this system could also include a long-term path to citizenship for those who are interested, after they jump a few hurdles (civics classes, etc.) and pay some fees. That would be a pretty ok system! Instead, we have "wait lines" as long as a human lifespan. I personally can't fault someone who lives in an awful situation from taking her fate and those of her children into her own hands to make their lives better when the legal channels are de facto closed to her, but your mileage may vary.

It is absolutely correct that anti-immigration sentiment is higher when the economy is bad! I think this is one part emotional (looking for a scapegoat), one part fear of people sucking up taxes, and one part fear of the lump of labor fallacy. Luckily, the facts are that most immigrants (even a lot of legal ones) can't access public services, and ultimately pay more in taxes through sales tax than they receive in public goods. Similarly, immigrants raise or do not effect the wages of all Americans except...other low-skill immigrants. Which sucks for those low-skill immigrants, but I usually hear anti-immigrant sentiment from white Americans so there's some kind of mental disconnect going on.
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Slyboots • 2 years ago
His story is very sympathetic, and I wish him well. I hope he is not deported.

However, financial aid resources are strained and will only become more so. I don't see it as being "anti-immigrant" to be against the Dream Act. Rather, I see it as being pro (legal)-immigrant and pro native-born students.
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pitbullteacher Slyboots • 2 years ago
The divisiveness set in motion by the forces in power want us to be divisive. Don't blame the immigrants for the powers that be who are bringing their beliefs down onto you. Your instinct was correct the first time, it is about what is right and wrong. Don't make it about money.
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John Doe Slyboots • 4 hours ago
After seeing him heckle the President, I kind of wish he was deported.
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Greyhaired • 2 years ago
Thank you for carrying this story. As an adult trying to help young people and push for a Federal DREAM Act this gives me more energy. If Hong and his family can keep working then so can I.
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pitbullteacher Greyhaired • 2 years ago
Please fight for him, because his family can't. Hopefully he has some good friends who have his back. What is his status? I believe it was Illinois who just passed the Dream Act? We must push harder now, before he gets hurt!

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Annee • 2 years ago
This an example of why it is difficult, for some countries, to get a tourist visa to visit the USA. Many of the illegals are "over-stays" of tourist, student, biz visas.
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Lhasa7 • 2 years ago
I have never pursued formal graduate studies. Does 20 years of self-directed study since college make me an “undocumented” D.Phil. (Oxon.)? I think not.
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Jane Stillwater • 2 years ago
This is yet another example of how America wastes the skills and talents of its young. If we would teach and train our "undocumented" citizens instead, America would be a stronger and better place and we could hold our heads up in the world instead of just slowly sliding into becoming just one more mediocre country bound by prejudice and fear.
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ano11 • 2 years ago
The ground zero is that his family broke the law. All this talk and complexities of the DREAM act can be solved by just looking at the root. People broke the US law. Shouldn't they pay a price for that? You can't break the law and demand the "right" for a same education as the one's that follow the rules. There are community colleges and much cheaper options for students like him. And yea, Berkeley degree holds much more weight then a community college's associates, but oh well, too bad. If you can't afford the $40 steak, go to mcdonalds.
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Murphy999 • 2 years ago
I am now living in Thailand where there is a strong anti-bias against illegal immigrants. There are millions of hill tribe children that are born in here and they are not allowed to attend school, receive any benefits, or travel freely in the country. Police check points manned throughout the country prevents many from leaving the village. Along the borders of Burma and Thailand there are hundreds of thousands of Karen refugees living in cramped housing and many have lived and died there. The camps have been there for over 60 years.

What I am concerned about is that so many of these refugees could be re-settled in the US. Most would love to return to Burma but cannot out of concern for their safety.

I understand that racism is rearing its ugly head again in the US especially when the economy is in tatters. I have seen this so many times. Unfortunately, the US is not alone. It is happening across Europe and in Asia. Thailand has a labor shortage and there is so much exploitation against the Cambodian, Burmese, and Lao illegal immigrants. The ugly side that is happening all the the world and this includes the US is the human slavery.

We need to balance the immigration problem free from politicians using the issue from political gain.
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wendy • 6 hours ago −
After watching him disrespect president Obama speech, I feel shame for him, Is this a South Korean cultures? one advise to Ju Hong, You should go back to where you belong, because you are not even respect our president, the president who is fighting for the immigration reform and help you and allow your sister and your mom to stay here. You should go back to a totally Korean speaking and all Korean culture. In America, we have all different cultures, that's what make United States is such a great country, and currently we have a great president
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配信日時:2013年11月26日 18時44分 Share (facebook)

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오바마, 이민개혁 연설 중 20대 한인 청년과 ‘설전’
“이민자 추방 멈춰달라” 호소에 “그걸 위해 이 자리에 있다” 진화

목록목록메일메일인쇄인쇄글씨크기 폰트 크게폰트 작게

▲ 버락 오바마(맨 앞줄) 미국 대통령이 25일(현지시간) 샌프란시스코 차이나타운에서 이민개혁 관련 연설을 하던 중 “추방을 중단하라”고 항의하는 한국인 청년(위에서 두 번째줄 오른쪽)을 쳐다보고 있다.
샌프란시스코 UPI 연합뉴스

미국 서부 지역을 방문 중인 버락 오바마 미 대통령이 25일(현지시간) 이민개혁 문제에 대해 연설하던 중 “추방을 중단하라”는 한 한인 청년의 항의에 연설을 멈추고 설전을 벌였다고 새너제이머큐리뉴스가 전했다.

오바마 대통령은 이날 샌프란시스코 차이나타운 ‘베티옹레크리에이션센터’에서 이민개혁법 통과를 촉구하는 연설을 진행했다. 단상 위 오바마 대통령의 뒤편에는 세계 각지에서 미국으로 온 이민자들이 서 있었다.

연설이 끝날 무렵 이들 가운데 서 있던 한 한국 출신 청년이 오바마 대통령을 향해 “당신의 도움이 필요하다”며 자신을 포함한 이민자 가족들이 뿔뿔이 흩어지고 있다고 소리치기 시작했다. 샌프란시스코주립대에 재학 중인 대학원생 홍주(24)씨로 확인된 이 청년은 “제발 당신의 행정 권한을 사용해서, 이 나라의 ‘서류 미비’ 이민자 1150만명 모두를 위해 당장 추방을 멈추라”고 호소했다. 그는 이어 “포괄적 이민개혁법안을 통과시켜야 한다는 것에는 동의하지만, 당신은 지금도 그들 모두를 위해 추방을 중단시킬 힘을 갖고 있다”고 주장했다.

이에 대해 오바마 대통령은 연설을 멈추고 홍씨를 쳐다보며 “사실 그렇지 않다. 그게 바로 우리가 이 자리에 있는 이유”라고 답했지만 다른 이민자들도 “추방을 멈추라”고 외치는 등 분위기는 한동안 진정되지 않았다.

진화에 나선 오바마 대통령은 “젊은이들의 열정을 존중한다. 이들은 가족을 깊이 걱정하기 때문”이라고 평가한 뒤 “고함을 치거나, 내가 법을 어겨서 마치 뭔가 할 수 있는 것처럼 행세하는 것은 쉽지만 나는 민주적 절차라는 좀 더 어려운 길을 제안하겠다.”고 강조했다.

오바마 2기 행정부의 핵심 정책인 이민개혁법은 지난 6월 상원을 통과했으나 하원을 장악한 공화당의 반대로 답보 상태다. 11살 때 어머니와 미국으로 건너온 홍씨는 자신도 서류 미비 이민자 신분으로, 이민자 권익 옹호를 위해 활동하고 있다. 홍씨는 “이는 매우 시급한 문제로, 내가 목소리를 낼 수 있는 유일한 자리였다”며 “지금 구류시설에 있어 이 자리에 올 수 없는 다른 서류 미비 학생들의 목소리를 대변한 것”이라고 말했다.

김미경 기자

2013-11-27 16면

유(柳), ユ Ju

Ju Hong
Research Assistant
San Francisco Bay Area 非営利団体

Research Assistant - Harvard University
DREAMer Advisory Committee - International Institute of the Bay Area
Outreach Coordinator - Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
Legislative Intern - City and County of San Francisco
Senator - Associated Students of the University of California
San Francisco State University
University of California, Berkeley
Laney College

Ju Hong Explains Heckling President Obama on Deportation, Interrupting Immigration Speech

YouStarNews YouStarNews·210 本の動画
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210 回再生

公開日: 2013/11/26
S.F. State student who shouted at Obama has history of gutsy protests
(Mercurynews) SAN FRANCISCO -- When organizers placed Ju Hong in a prominent position flanking President Barack Obama on Monday, they probably did not realize they were handing a high-profile lectern to one of the Bay Area's gutsiest immigration reform activists.

Emboldened by a growing immigrant youth movement and irritated by years of fruitless political talk, Hong has never been one to sit as a smiling backdrop.

So it surprised many in the nation, but not his friends, when the 24-year-old in a sharp gray blazer loudly criticized the president's inaction, forcing Obama to crane his head and defend himself.

The scene-making protest was not Hong's first, but certainly his brashest, since the South Korean immigrant emerged as a student activist at Laney College and later UC Berkeley.

Invited to the Chinatown speech as a member of the "Dreamer" movement of young people brought to the country illegally as children, Hong said he "was there just to listen" but ended up being asked by a friend to stand in a group behind Obama. He grew annoyed as he heard the president blaming Congress for stalling immigration reform.

"Usually we're supposed to be props," Hong said. "I was shaking a little bit, but thinking about me and my family and my community and my friends, the pain they have suffered under the Obama administration ... it really sparked a buildup of my anger, it made me speak out."

Flown to the United States by his mother when he was 11, Hong adjusted quickly to American life. He played basketball, ran cross country and earned high grades at Alameda High School, but never knew about his family's immigration status until he was preparing for college. The more he learned about immigration policy, the more he grew frustrated by the politics surrounding it.

Even as the youth movement of which he was a part elicited growing sympathy, Hong grew concerned that others -- such as his mother and sister -- would be left behind.

"Looking at my mother, sacrificing her time and energy just to support my education, it was heartbreaking for me. I became a little bit angry. I couldn't wait for politicians to just talk," Hong told this newspaper three years ago.

Hong was one of six protesters arrested in August for interrupting the UC Board of Regents as it approved former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as the new UC president. Hong's message there was similar. He derided Napolitano as the chief enforcer of policies that have deported nearly 2 million people during the Obama presidency.

And in 2011, Hong was jailed and risked deportation when he and other activists blocked a street in San Bernardino during an immigration rally protesting the partnerships between local police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Like many Asian immigrants in the country illegally, Hong and his mother and sister all entered the country on tourist visas that expired soon after they arrived. Hong, however, now has a work permit, driver's license and cannot be deported because of the Obama administration's order last year granting a reprieve to young immigrants like him. He is now pursing a master's in public administration at San Francisco State. His sister and mother remain at risk.

"Ju is considered one of the leaders, one of the promising young leaders ... of the undocumented community in general," said activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who revealed his own illegal immigration status in The New York Times Magazine in 2011.

"If I had been there, I may have just done the same thing," Vargas said. "Two million people (deported), for many people that's an abstract number. For us, this is a reality."

by Krsna Avila, Ju Hong, & Beto

I wanna be a citizen so fucking bad
Buy all of the things I never had
I wanna be on the cover of TIMES magazine
Smiling next to Jose and the DREAMs

Oh, every time I close my eyes
I see my name in shinny cards
Ah, different country every night
Oh, I swear the world better prepare
Cuz' I'm a citizen

The homie Ju wants to be a U.S. Citizen
Cuz he trippin on this life that he be living in
For his green card, saving all his dividends
Wants a better life for his kin and him

Wants the sweet life, that's word to Zack and Cody
Undocumented, Unafraid. he ain't ever low key
My bro be reppin hard for all the DREAMers
UC Berkeley R.I.S.E., that's the team huh?

Bleeding blue and gold, stories never told
Now they unfold, so bold when he steps to break the mold
Taking over streets, ain't afraid to swing back
He ain't gonna stop 'til they pass the dream act

Oh, every time I close my eyes
I see my name in shinny cards
Ah, different country every night
Oh, I swear the world better prepare
Cuz' I'm a citizen

Oh oh, oh oh, yeah I'm a citizen
Oh oh, oh oh, yeah I'm a citizen

I got my green card, educated we smart
Fighting real hard, till' the DREAM reach us

Let me take you to a place of insanity
Once told me I don't belong but I did my thing

And I struggled, struggled
But I hustled, hustled
Till' they gave me my rights, but it's far from over

Deception isn't key, that's what they told me
Don't forget about your past cuz' your present's never lonely

I disobeyed the law for the better right
3 days in jail but I freed my mind

Fist up high, screaming with my amigos
If you didn't know, we're the mighty, mighty DREAMers!

I wanna be a citizen so fucking bad
Buy all of the things I never had
I wanna be on the cover of TIMES magazine
Smiling next to Jose and the DREAMs

Oh, every time I close my eyes
I see my name in shinny cards
Ah, different country every night
Oh, I swear the world better prepare
Cuz' I'm a citizen

i guess he has plastic surgery to his north and eyes.
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Ju Hong, UC Berkeley Undocumented Student south Korean
Korean Student Shares a Secret | 한인청년의 비밀 고백
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I Wanna be a Citizen - Krsna Avila, Ju Hong, Beto

Ju Hong, you should enter the US army, work as a US citizen soldier with the risk of your life in Iraq.
or go back to your mother country Korea,you have the responsibility as korean citizen, 4 year military draft.
you should do your duties, listening and quiet well in someone's speech, later you will have the right to require.

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