Meet Ju Hong
I am sharing a blog post from an activist rock star, Mr. Ju Hong. When the typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) destroyed South East Asia, particularly the Philippines on November 8, 2013, I had local news on my Facebook feed for storm relief updates. I wanted to know what the Philippine government, as well as other governments, was doing to help. Later that month President Obama held a news conference in San Francisco’s Chinatown on immigration reform. Undocumented youth were invited on stage with him while he spoke. During the speech he got "heckled".
I didn't see too much coverage on this in the US (most likely because my news is limited to NPR during the morning commute and the treadmill at the YMCA in the evenings) but news on the other side of the world was buzzing, particularly ABS-CBN news (a Philippine network) about a DREAMer that dared to speak out against the most powerful man in the world. Undocumented activists, DREAMERs and allies were afire with support and pride for this courageous and outspoken individual. The amazing thing about our nation and it’s Leader is that Mr. Hong was allowed to stay as Secret Service agents sought to remove him.
Of course I “friended” him on Facebook like the undocu-groupie that I am and have had a little bit of contact with him. I offered some mild editorial feedback on one of his blog posts, which he received graciously. Recently he contacted me and asked for a second pair of eyes with his most recent post regarding his trip to South Korea. Ju is a DACA recipient, which allows him to work legally in the United States, although this type of protection does not offer him a driver's license. This depends on the state and their laws with regard to granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Lucky for Ju, California is a state that grants undocumented immigrants the ability to drive legally.
Anyhow, one of the benefits of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is advanced parole. This allowed Ju to return to his home country and return to the US without being deported. The blog post was about his return to South Korea. I was thrilled when he reached out to me. I am not out there literally protesting with undocumented activists, fighting for those with no voice but I am grateful to offer what little help I can give.
I believe Ju’s piece touches on the most important aspect of our immigration crisis, which is fractured family relationships. This occurs out of need and often times by choice in order to assimilate, creating a path for a life here in the US. As undocumented youth, DREAMers and allies redefine themselves in these times, taking into account immigration status and individual histories, maybe one of the most important aspects of the journey is the return home. I also wish to make the journey “home” in the near future as I wish the same opportunity for other undocumented immigrants. It is my hope that when we get there, we see ourselves as part of the American vision of harmonious democracy and less like the “other” that our status would have us believe.
Ju is this year's Mr. Hyphen so the post went into a couple of blogs. Mr. Hyphen is a pageant created by Hyphen magazine to showcase the community involvement and activism of Asian American men. It is voted upon by a committee after having after some rounds showcasing charisma, talent and their minds after a Q&A session. Ju is currently a graduate student at San Francisco State University, a research assistant for Harvard University, a coordinator for Laney College Men’s Center and a member of the DREAMer Advisory committee. His goals are very much in line with helping youth achieve what seems to be the impossible given their immigration status.
So anyway, without further ado, here are the posts. I am immensely proud of this individual and hope I have continued opportunities to help his writing journey as he has helped mine.