Filipino-Americans laud Obama's overhaul of immigration laws

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - "This is the year, this is the moment, this is history."

Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino-American journalist, posted this on Facebook as he sat in the front row at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas where US President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday an overhaul of the US immigration laws.

Vargas, who is undocumented, has been promoting the passage of the Dream Act and has become a popular public figure in a national campaign for immigration reform in the United States.

"We welcome this positive development that brings hope to the more than one million undocumented Filipinos in the US," said Arturo P. Garcia, one of the Fil-Am members of People's Core Immigrant Rights and Advocacy Services who gathered at La Placita Methodist Church in Los Angeles to watch a live telecast of Obama's speech.

"The Latino community says 'Si se puede' (Yes, we can). In Filipino we say, 'Pwedeng pwede' (It can be done)," said Garcia, whose group joined the predominantly Latino crowd in applauding and cheering Obama.

Garcia, however, said he still expected a long fight. "We held our hopes high in the past, only to realise nothing really happened," he said. "I hope to see a very strong political will."

Austin Baul Jr., president of the Filipino-American Community of Los Angeles, said he hoped that politicians would "walk their talk this time".

"We've talked about (immigration reform) for over a decade. Now is the time for legislators from both parties to work with the president in a bipartisan way," Baul said.

"We support (Obama's) efforts to fix our broken immigration system and establish a path to legalisation," said lawyer Arnedo Valera, coexecutive director of the Migrant Heritage Commission.

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