Filipino human rights advocacy groups are demanding that an activist from the Philippines detained at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday be allowed to enter the United States.
Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba was on his way to Washington, D.C., when he was stopped by customs agents during a layover in San Francisco. He was traveling to the U.S. to speak on humans rights issues in the Philippines, according to multiple people who were working with Aba on his visit.
Representatives from several Filipino human rights organizations gathered at the airport Wednesday to demand that Aba be able to see an attorney.
Terry Valen of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns said Aba has approval to come to the U.S. and his denial of entry is a "political blocking."
"He’s here to talk about the human rights crisis and the impact military aid from the U.S is having on the people in the Philippines," Valen said.
Aba is with an organization called Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao, which Valen said brings awareness to issues within the Muslim community in Mindanao, a southwest island of the Philippines. He is also a member of organizations that work on issues facing the country's Muslim and indigenous populations.
He planned to speak at an interfaith gathering called Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and was scheduled to meet with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as three U.S. senators.
According to a U.S. government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, Aba was denied entry because of a "technical glitch" with his visa.
He is scheduled to be returned to the Philippines, but will be allowed to reapply for admission to the U.S., the government official said.
A statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said: "The country of origin and human rights activism of a foreign national are not determining factors about his/her admissibility into the U.S."