An incident earlier this week at Seattle’s international airport, which resulted in the deportation of 63-year old Filipina Carina Yonzon Grande (pictured above, center, with future son-in-law Ken Shaw and grandson Josh), has sparked another discussion on the complex matter of immigration.
In an emailed statement sent to Philippine news outlets, Grande states she was on her way to the US for her daughter’s wedding, a trip that would mark her 13th trip to the States. Upon arrival, was questioned, held (Grande claims without food or water) and later sent back to the Philippines by immigration officials.
Thanks to netizens, the talks surrounding issue have shown a wide variety of opinions.
Some claim the immigration officials were simply doing their job and practicing precaution:
“Bakit alam ninyo na ba ang reason ng kabilang kampo kung bakit nila ginawa yon? Baka naman may valid reason din sila…” [“Why, do you all know the reason why the other side (US immigration officials) did what they did? Perhaps they have a valid reason.” (JosWallace Jao-Farmer, ABS CBN News Facebook)
“Sorry po sa na experience nyo dito sa USA pero sa tingin ko may nakita sila sa papers mo na hindi ka talaga nila papasukin very strict sila...if kulang talaga ang papers deport ka talaga......” [“I’m sorry for your experience here in ths US, but in my opinion, they saw something in your paperwork that wouldn’t have let you entered. (sic) They’re very strict...if you have something missing from your paperwork, you have no choice but to be deported.”] (Coppick Pauldel, ABS CBN News Facebook)
Others accuse them of discriminatory behavior, viewing Filipinos as potential TNTs (tago ng tago, a Tagalog phrase for someone who will enter the country and become an undocumented resident or worker), a phrase that Grande claimed they used during her questioning.
“Some US immigration officers think that majority of Filipinos are liars whose (sic) looking for green pasture when they sit put at the mainland with no intention to return to motherland. (Benajmin Escano, GMA News Facebook)
But most notably, there are those that remind us that Grande’s experience is not isolated and reflects a larger issue of mistreatment and basic human rights.
“I understand that the US needs to be vigilant, but there is no excuse for the rude behavior and lack of professionalism. When I see how curt and rude they can be with me, a US citizen, I shudder to think of what is in store for non-natives. (Perlkherst, Reddit)
“Uhm I don’t think the other side of the story is going to be acceptable. We understand the rationale behind their jobs, but however way you put it, maltreatment is not acceptable. Everyone deserves basic human rights. (Katrina Dela Cruz Cacal, ABS CBN News Facebook)
Such comments remind us that immigration issues are ones that affect the entire global community and have a particular bearing and importance for the Asian and Asian American community. With Asian Americans becoming the fastest growing immigrant population in the United States, incidents such as these undoubtedly raise a red flag for our community. But not only is this concerning for Asian Americans, it is something that should cause concern on a national and global scale.
Because, as Katrina Cacal mentions, beyond the immigration debate, it’s heartbreaking to think that people, immigrants or not, are being subjected to poor treatment, particularly in a country that has long prided itself in being a place that has opened its doors to visitors and immigrants from around the globe. While we do not know the whole story concerning the Grande case, as the US Embassy has refused to release a statement and no word has come from immigration authorities in Seattle, that should not overshadow the improper, dehumanizing treatment that Grande experienced.
Notably, this incident comes on the heels of a looming visit by Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines, scheduled for October 11 and 12. The two countries view each other as reputable allies, a relationship that has held strong for years due to the two countries intertwining histories and continuing diplomatic and military ties. Though Kerry is said to be on the trip to “reaffirm the strong economic, people-to-people, and security links between the two nations,” it will be interesting to see if immigration and tension-inducing issue will be brought up in discussion — US-Philippine immigration was a planned topic for discussion for Philippine President Ninoy Aquino.
But whatever happens, we’re sure the netizens will definitely have something to say.
[Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News)