For Immediate Release
October 14, 2013
Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, Gabriela USA
Seattle, WA – On October 1st, 63 year old Filipina woman, Carina Grande, was travelling from the Philippines on her 10th visit to the US to attend her daughter’s wedding. Upon arrival, she was wrongfully accused of being an undocumented immigrant out to seek employment as a domestic worker for a family member, and in the process was harassed and insulted by immigration officers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Even after verifying valid paperwork and a 10 year US visa, officials still directed her to be questioned. During her interrogation, they did not give her any water or food for 6 hours. Accusing her of lying, the immigration officers gave her an ultimatum, either be deported or go to jail and be barred from entry into the US for five years. Grande chose to be deported and stated, “Exhausted, hungry, and sleep-deprived, I chose option one. It is disheartening that at my age, I didn’t receive any respect from these officials. I was treated like a criminal.”
Locally in Seattle, Maru Mora Villalpando of Latino Advocacy states, “Carina Grande’s case is too common but very few travelers have the chance to share their stories and get media attention. This case reflects the need to bring back the dignity of all people to the forefront of the immigrant rights struggle. The way she was treated is a reflection of how immigrants are seen by immigration officials, as deportation quotas in order to keep the Congressional budget growing.”
This is an example of many cases that involve US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) abusing their authority and violating basic constitutional protections and human rights of immigrants. Gabriela USA believes that this perpetuates the growing issue of criminalization towards Filipinos including the racial profiling of Filipinas as undocumented, domestic workers. Keeping Carina Grande from visiting her family through the practices of the CBP, dehumanizes individuals. There has been no accountability from the officials that conducted the interrogation. They have not even responded to the allegations or disclosed the names of individuals who handled the case.
Donna Denina, Gabriela USA Political Education officer states, “Carina’s case exposes the weakness in the current immigration policy of the US. It is designed to treat immigrants and migrants inhumanely where they are often viewed as criminals and a threat to national security instead of treated with dignity. This kind of treatment is in the context to control the flow of immigrants, migrants, workers and their families according to the needs and dictates of the US economy, thereby denying them their basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Progressive groups of the PNW Bayan USA alliance alongside Gabriela USA will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform policies that seek to not only give back rights to migrants and immigrants in this country, but to also take into account the aggressive neoliberal economic policies of the US that force thousands of migrants out of their countries.