Filipinos in Southern California call on ICE: Free Maria Luna and halt her deportation!

For immediate release: January 30, 2019

Alex Montances, Migrante Southern California |

Megan Foronda, GABRIELA Los Angeles |

Photo above: Members of Migrante Southern California, GABRIELA Los Angeles, Filipino Migrant Center, and Asian Prisoner Support Committee pose in front of the Adelanto Immigration Detention Facility in support of the release of undocumented Filipina, Maria Luna.

On January 31, 2019 members of Migrante Southern California, a Filipino workers organization, and GABRIELA Los Angeles, a Filipino women’s organization, joined the Asian Prisoner Support Committee and other community members to support Maria Luna, a Filipina detainee, during her deportation hearing at the Adelanto Immigration Detention Facility in San Bernardino County, CA. After several hours of testimony and deliberation, the judge denied the release of Maria from detention and to proceed with her deportation. Nonetheless, Maria still has an opportunity to win her case with an appeal and undergo a bond hearing.

Maria was only a toddler when she immigrated with her family to the United States from the Philippines. As a teenager growing up in San Francisco, Maria faced troublesome challenges and conspired in a crime with her peers, which led to her incarceration. At eighteen years old, Maria began to serve 22 years of a life sentence and was released early by the Board of Paroles and California Governor Jerry Brown. Upon her release, Maria was detained immediately by ICE which placed her in deportation proceedings to the Philippines.  During her incarceration, she turned her life around to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor and a peer mentor, helping numerous incarcerated women rebuild their lives again. Maria Luna has not only served her time, but has also made positive changes for herself and for her peers and deserves to return home with family, friends, and the larger Filipino community.

“Despite overcoming tremendous barriers and becoming an upstanding member of society, Luna’s placement in deportation proceedings reveals the U.S.’s contempt for immigrants and the lie that one need only to be a “good” immigrant to be accepted in this country,” says Alex Montances, member of Migrante Southern California. “Luna’s story is all too familiar to many Filipino migrants, who, after being forced to migrate by poverty, government corruption, and landlessness, come to the U.S. only to endure discrimination, trafficking, wage theft, unemployment, and little access to basic rights like housing and healthcare.”  

In the United States, over 2 million people are living behind bars, ranking the U.S. the number one position globally with the largest incarcerated population in the world. A majority of the incarcerated are people of color, immigrants, low-income, and other minorities who are marginalized by American society. Moreover, many of these prisons and detention centers, like the Adelanto facility where Maria Luna is held, are operated by private corporations like the GEO Group that generate billions of dollars in profit through government contracts. GEO has also had a hand in actively shaping politics and government, having donated $250,000 supporting Trump's inaugural festivities and an additional $275,000 to the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now.

“Maria Luna is a victim of a so-called justice system that seeks to make money by either imprisoning or deporting immigrants,” says Megan Foronda, Vice Chair of GABRIELA Los Angeles. “Luna served her time. She’s lived in the U.S. since she was a toddler. She helps incarcerated women rebuild their lives. Yet none of it matters to U.S. immigration policy and they especially don’t matter under the Trump administration, which has happily terrorized immigrants, imprisoned them, and deported them while making a profit off of this terrorism.”

Migrante Southern California and GABRIELA Los Angeles calls for an end to the Trump administration’s unjust deportations and cruel ICE raids that are attacking immigrant communities and separating families. We remain steadfast in remaining by the side of Maria, her family, friends, and community to continue fighting for her release. We call on the Department of Homeland Security to halt Maria Luna’s deportation and release her immediately from ICE detention.

Photo above: Members of Migrante Southern California hold signs calling for the halt of deportation of Maria Luna.



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