Obama heckler talks about his life as an undocumented immigrant

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Audio Transcript:

Aaron Schacter: President Obama got an earful on the Global Nationfront last week

President Obama: That's why we're here

Ju Hong: Mr. President please use your executive order to

President Obama: Thats-

Ju Hong: -halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrant in this country right now.

Schacter: Obama was interrupted just as he was winding down a speech in California on immigration. Incredibly enough the heckler was actually invited to the event and was standing behind the President. And instead of being kicked out, the President asked that he be allowed to stay. That heckler is 24 year old UC Berkeley senior Ju Hong. He came to the US from South Korea when he was 11. He says he didn't realize until later that he was living here illegally. He's what's known as a Dreamer, which means he's protected from deportation by the President's executive order last year, granting a reprieve for some of the young, undocumented. He joined us earlier today. Ju, after Obama's speech you said usually we're supposed to be props, but at one point you were so angry that you said you had to speak out. Why?

Ju Hong: I was formerly invited by White House to attend his remarks on immigration reform in San Francisco and as an undocumented immigrant I was hoping to hear about his plan to address the lives of 11.5 million undocumented people living in this country, like my family. And throughout his speech he expressed his support for comprehensive immigration reform but he failed to address how his administration has deported more immigrants than any other administration in US history. Right now, under his Obama administration, he deported 1.8 million undocumented immigrant family members. And so I thought about my personal struggle as an undocumented immigrant, as I thought about my family's situation, as I thought about my friends and my community members who had been deported or currently in detention center, you know, I was compelled to speak out the truth to the President Obama.

Schacter: Now, you said that your family has been separated for Thanksgiving. Tell us about your family and why that is.

Ju Hong: So I was born and raised in South Korea until I was 11 years old and back in South Korea our family owned a small Japanese restaurant business and unfortunately it did not work out that well and we had to give up the business and file for bankruptcy. And in the following year my mom and my dad decided to divorce and ever since then I grew up with my mom and my older sister, barely surviving the old country in the South Korea. And in 2001 my mom decided to move to the United States to seek a better life for me and my older sister. and ever since I came to this country, you know, I grew up just like many other American students, I went to public school, spoke English, and joined student government and participated in many student activities and most importantly I wanted to go to college just like many other American students. But during senior in my high school, while I was filling out my college application, there's a section where it requires to fill out social security number and I didn't know what to put. And that's when I told my mom about it. What's my social security number and she, that's when she told me everything about my immigration status, that we came to the United States from South Korea with a tourist visa for 6 months and she extended it an additional six months and within 12 months period she tried to adjust our immigration status but it did not work out.

Schacter: Ju, let me ask you, there are lots of people who say, you know, empathize with your situation but the fact is, you guys broke the law.

Ju Hong: Well, I think that the law itself is broken. President Obama acknowledged that the immigration system is broken. And it was time for change and I think it's time to fix our broken immigration system.

Schacter: Yours is not the face we normally see when we talk about illegal immigration in the United States. I wonder if there are other Asian-Americans caught up in this problem and if that makes a difference, you think, in the discussion in the United States.

Ju Hong: First of all, this immigration issue is not only a Latino issue, it is also effecting Asian-American community as well as other community members across the country. And in fact, this is a human rights issue so everyone need to get involved and learn more about this immigration issue because everyone is effected by this broken immigration system.

Schacter: Ju Hong, thank you for telling us your story.

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