Another male Filipino worker has been taken into the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Philippine Consulate General legal officer Dyan Miranda confirmed with the Saipan Tribune that their office was notified by ICE about Marlon Hernandez, who was taken into custody yesterday.
Miranda said in a phone interview that they have emailed ICE to coordinate their visit to Hernandez, who they found out is being assisted by the Federal Ombudsman’s Office.
No other information is available about Hernandez, who is now the fourth Filipino worker in detention due to lack of legal status in the CNMI.
Miranda said that Elpidio Macaraeg, who has been in detention for a month and has been on island for 26 years, and Celia Dela Cruz, who was taken into custody early this month, are both “awaiting final schedule from ICE” given their final order of removal.
Another Filipino, Crizaldo Valdez, is “awaiting his green card petition” and has no intention to seek help from the Consulate, added Miranda.
Consul General Medardo Macaraig said in a separate interview that many Filipinos with immigration cases “are released on their own recognizance.”
“Although they have time to go to the Consulate to ask for help, it would be quite difficult to provide assistance if their case is purely immigration,” he said.
According to Macaraig, some 40 Filipinos have already submitted written requests seeking repatriation assistance, with some of the requests approved just yesterday.
Nine more individuals who are members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration have asked for repatriation assistance from their office, said welfare officer Julie Fabian.
Of the nine, Fabian said one was already sent home while two more have already been booked. The others, she said, are already “good as approved.”
“The reason for the delay is that we are waiting for these individuals to confirm their schedule,” she said.
Macaraig said the numbers are “still not in the alarming proportions that we expected and feared.” “But who knows? We still have one week to go before the deadline,” he added.
Macaraig reiterated that the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila cannot provide funding assistance out of the overseas Filipino workers’ legal assistance fund for immigration cases.
“Definitely not the legal assistance fund. After all, those are taxes paid by people and we should spend that according to law. The law says legal assistance is only extended for labor and criminal cases that are labor-related,” he said.
With many advices being given out by parties other than the Consulate, Macaraig stressed that Filipinos should take responsibility for their actions based on such advice.
“You should be responsible for the choices that you make. We are mature enough to determine what’s best for us,” he said.