Cal Grad Who Heckled Obama's SF Speech Defends Action

Ju Hong, the recent UC Berkeley grad who heckled President Obama about deportations during his San Francisco speech on Nov. 25, defended the interruption in an open letter to Obama published on Huffington Post.

Profile photo of Ju Hong from his Facebook page.
Profile photo of Ju Hong from his Facebook page.
Ju Hong, a recent UC Berkeley grad who made international headlines when he interrupted President Obama's Nov. 25 speech in San Francisco's Chinatown, says in a Huffington Post blog post that he was "compelled" to act because of Obama's deportation policy.

In an open letter to Obama published Monday, the 24-year-old Hong wrote, "I spoke up -- and am writing to you now -- to ask that you use your executive order to halt deportations for 11.5 million undocumented immigrant families."

Hong called out during Obama's speech, telling the president to stop the deportations and began chanting, "Stop deportations!" As security personnel moved to oust him, Obama said to let the young man stay and then responded to the complaint, saying the President cannot unilaterally overrule Congress on immigration and deportation policy.

Hong, who is pursuing a master's in public administration at San Francisco State, said he discovered in his senior year in high school that he and his other family members in the United States had overstayed a tourist visa and are undocumented immigrants.

Former SF Mayor Willie Brown's apology to Obama on behalf of city

Former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown offered an apology to Obama on behalf of San Francisco in his weekly San Francisco Chronicle column Sunday.

"The White House is steaming over San Francisco's lack of vetting of the people who joined President Obama onstage in Chinatown last week for his immigration speech - especially after one of them started yelling at the president about halting deportations," Brown wrote.

"On behalf of the city, Mr. President, I apologize for our bad behavior."


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Stewart Gooderman December 04, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I didn't think there was anything wrong with making our President fully aware of the passions regarding this issue. And I think Mr Obama handled it in just the right way which is why I voted for him. I don't understand why the White House got so bent out of shape. I think the President came out looking far better than if it was a totally staged event.
Kei December 05, 2013 at 10:10 AM
"...the President cannot unilaterally overrule Congress on immigration and deportation policy." He said that?! Really?? Such NERVE!! His Administration hasn't yet had may qualms about overruling Congress-- such as DOMA, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, such as even overruling his own Obamacare, deciding which parts shall be enforced, and when. (And, conveniently, enforcement begins after the 2014 elections.) The imperial authority of this President and his Administration is quite reminiscent of that of Richard Nixon, with the distinct difference that the so-called 'free press' is perfectly content to lay supine at the feet of The One, rolling over on occasion to get its belly scratched. Where is the ACLU when it comes to these violations? Where is the Congress? When will the press stop boasting about 'speaking truth to power' and actually DO just that?!? As for the heckling-- I was not aware that it was the duty of every American (and every immigrant, legal or illegal) to protect the delicate feelings of The One. This man LIED outright to the American people on numerous occasions, and people are losing their healthcare despite his promises (which he knew at the time were empty), and yet it is his feelings which must be protected??
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 10:30 AM
To @Kei Such a crock of sh*t! You need to get your facts straight. 1) People are not losing their health care. They are losing junk policicies that the insurance companies created that made people *think* they had health insurance. 2) The ACA act provisions were approved by Congress to begin in 2014, *not* the President. Presidents don't pass laws, Congress does. 3) And President Bush/VP Dick Chaney and his admin didn't outright lie to us about Iraq?? 4) As far as The Press goes, when was the last time you looked at who *owns* these newspaper chains? They are owned by corporate conglomerates, who certainly don't believe in freedom of the press. 60 Minutes was once part of CBS News, now it's part of the Entertainment Division. 5) Where is Congress you ask?? The members of Congress have decided to take off more days than they work, to give themselves raises, to vote numerous times on agendas that they know they cannot enforce just for the show of it. And whose fault is that? It's OUR FAULT, including yourself, who votes these idiots into office simply by listening to TV commercials, rather than actually doing some honest-to-God research on what's actually behind that voice and face.
Kei December 05, 2013 at 10:32 AM
Thanks, Dr. Charm. It is the President's job to enforce the laws as passed, no? And he has granted exemptions to his cronies, yes? And he has unilaterally decided which portions will and which will not be enforced, yes? And people ARE losing their very good policies, yes?
Kei December 05, 2013 at 10:35 AM
And the press has been utterly COWARDLY and CRAVEN in challenging this President? And I assume they will be equally complicit in getting Hillary elected in 2016-- yes, the very same Hillary Clinton who had the GALL to stand next to Ambassador Stevens' coffin, refer to him cloyingly as 'Chris,' and then lie outright that it was due to some video. The word for this is LIE, it is not merely deception. The word for Obama's "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" etc., is LIE. He and the Adminstration knew that it was untrue, right from the very start.
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 11:11 AM
@Kei: read the Constitution. The President shall "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." He cannot willfully stop a law's execution, but he has wide latitude as to what "faithfully" means. So yes he can enter exemptions and can unilaterally determine when parts of the law can be enforced in order to "faithfully" make sure the law can and is being enforced. People are NOT losing good policies. They are losing JUNK policies. Why do you blame the press. They are not at fault. Citizens are at fault. It is your duty as a citizen to make the determination as to whom you think is best for the office. As far as the doctor bit, didn't Pres Obama admit that was ultimately a falsehood? DID PRES BUSH EVER ADMIT THERE WERE NO IRAQ WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?? Do you have the same negative attitude towards him as well? How many innocent Americans did he kill and maim? Why isn't he in jail for that? Why don't you do something about that as well? I want you to say: "President Bush is a LIAR." Can you do that??
dorthy manser December 05, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Hey, Kei, I'm utterly confused as to the passion of the hatred displayed against Obama. He's a slightly left of center technocrat who can give a great speech. Nothing he has done should be even remotely surprising. Frankly, I think that no Democrat, of any kind would attract anything but raw hatred from Conservatives. Same thing for the reverse. Hating Bush because he cut taxes and regulation on business. What a shocker. He was a Republican. Of course that's what he would do. And that is what is wrong with our country. Absurd levels of hatred for modest changes in policy.
Kei December 05, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Thank you for your consideration in this reply. I do not hate Obama, but I am deeply disturbed by the significant changes which he has wrought, and will continue to wring. The HSS mandate does violate the 1st Amendment-- this should be an issue of concern. Obamacare will change the relationship between the government and the citizen-- every citizen is now compelled to purchase something. The IRS has targeted groups which have fundamental political differences with the Administration. As for the increased polarization, yes I think it is deeply dysfunctional. The two sides (or three, or however many) can scarcely talk to each other, there is too often so much ire in the middle. And as for changes being 'modest'-- we shall have to wait and see, won't we? And yes, I do get carried away; I apologize for that.
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 12:05 PM
@dorthy manser. I think the hatred comes from what "modest changes in policy" have wrought. Those changes President Bush implemented escalated the greatest shift in wealth since the end of the 19th century, and brought on the greatest economic calamity since The Great Depression of 1929-1939 (and it took a global war and the introduction of the nuclear age to finally get us out of that.) Modest though they may be, they have profoundly affected every single individual in this country and will continue to do so for many years to come. There is no doubt in my mind, that President Obama's legislation has the capacity to do the same, for better or for worse.
Ross Stapleton-Gray December 05, 2013 at 12:16 PM
I would have regarded Bush as a sub-par copy of his dad, favoring big business over other interests, until what he and his administration did in response to 9/11, and especially Iraq, where they made a decision ("Removing Saddam Hussein will improve our influence in the Middle East, at minimal cost") and then manufactured the excuse to launch a bungled war. Thousands of Americans are dead, and many tens of thousands of Iraqis, and many millions were displaced or otherwise suffered. I'd really like to see Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and many others standing in the dock in the Hague for war crimes. I was an intelligence analyst under (briefly) Reagan, then Bush Sr. and Clinton, and the march to war in 2002 was a slow-motion train wreck of political maneuverings and lies that I just goggled at as it happened.
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 03:48 PM
@Kei. I still do not understand how anybody thinks the HHS mandate violates the 1st amendment to the Constitution. If, an employer is, say, Catholic, and considers abortion murder, then that said employer, as an individual, does not need to use birth control. Nobody is forcing them to do so. However, his employees may all be atheists, and believe that controlling birth is good for the health of the family. As a health care issue, this should be a part of the health package, what is covered and not covered should not be cherry picked. The Catholic employer is not using birth control as is protected under the 1st amendment. To say that others must agree to his religious beliefs is a violation of *their* 1st amendment rights. He is not providing birth control to them. He is providing heath care. And that means different things to different people. What would happen if the employer was a Jehovah's Witness who didn't believe in going to doctors at all? Can he say he's not providing any doctor's services to his staff because *he* doesn't believe in it? The entire argument is totally specious.
thorn December 05, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Healthcare? hey left field, the game is over here- As far as the Heckler- Immigration ? Really? this is worth interrupting Obama? Better still- over Deportations? Obama has not been some "great deporter", and if he was, he would only be doing what the people want. Illegals are illegals, they are supposed to get deported. I believe Mr. Hong is barking at the wrong tree
dorthy manser December 05, 2013 at 04:41 PM
@Stewart. I'm not arguing that Presidents don't have effects, simply that, by historical or international standards, Dems and Republicans have hardly been radical in their policies. As far as the recent Great Recession goes, I think it would be fair to say that Clinton, and even Carter before him, played big roles in the deregulation that resulted in it. As far at the recent wars go, obviously massive screw ups, but Liberals have enthusiastically embraced equally stupid (and venial) wars in the past, and will, no doubt, in the future. My point is that if you want to get furious with the other side, you'll always have ample ammunition. And Kei, I agree that making everyone buy health insurance is a big step, but it was a step pushed by Conservatives back in the nineties, implemented by Romney and held up by the Supreme Court. Personally, I'd go for Medicare for all with the option of private insurance, but, then again, I'm just a crazy socialist : ).
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 05:16 PM
@dorthy. Want to give me an example of a stupid/venial war that Liberals have enthusiastically embraced? Re: Great Recession: Clinton perhaps but Reagan much more so. Carter, I think not. re: Medicare. I absolutely agree. I was for single payer from the very beginning.
dorthy manser December 05, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Ummm. Vietnam? Korea? And wasn't it Carter that deregulated the Airline industry?
dorthy manser December 05, 2013 at 06:39 PM
And Kei, thank you so much for your gracious reply. I think there is plenty of room for respectful disagreement. After all, none of us are actually certain that we are right, or at least we shouldn't be. I've certainly gotten old enough to be far less sure I know all the answers than I once was, and I really think that Conservatives and Liberals (and everyone else) can learn from each other if we are willing to listen to each other.
Kei December 05, 2013 at 06:47 PM
And this is the hardest thing in these oh-so-polarized times, to listen to each other. I tend to date the really intense polarization to the early 90s, though I suppose it was trending before that. But I thank you also for your gracious reply.
dorthy manser December 05, 2013 at 07:09 PM
And, for the record, as an Obama supporter, I still think the "if you like your insurance" line he pushed wasn't true, and he knew it wasn't. What he meant was, if you like your insurance, but we think it's crappy, then you won't be able to keep it. I can't see any political upside to his fiction now. Then again, this was all written into the law, so we should have known that he wasn't telling the truth. Then again again, I'm guessing if I had been listening to more conservative media I would have known it. Anyway, as far as the Heckler goes, I think Obama handled it just fine. Politicians hate anything off script, but sometimes it's probably good that they yelled at directly every now and then. Actually the whole thing is kind of ironic, since I think Obama genuinely believed that if he deported more criminals and beefed up border security that he could get the Republicans to play ball on immigration, since they have often said that first we need to secure the border, then we can talk. Of course, that wasn't really going to happen, and now Obama has alienated his base with nothing to show for it. Which, I guess, was the point.
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 09:13 PM
@dorthy. Korea and Viet Nam were never wars by definition. They were officially police actions. And from what I have read, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson really didn't have much choice in the matter. The United State after WWII was incredibly anti-communist. To do nothing would have raised an outcry from the hawks and turned the populace against them, at least initially. None of them went into these conflicts enthusiastically, as did Roosevelt who was warning every body it was coming and was only inhibited by our neutrality policy. Regarding deregulation of the airline industry, that IMHO had absolutely nothing to do with causing our recent Great Recession.
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Regarding the ACA and keeping your doctor, health plan, etc. I agree it was in the law, but I follow neoconservative media a wee bit, and nobody, not Rush Limbaugh, not Fox News, nobody, mentioned it until the exchanges were about to begin and the pink slips went out. This proves to me that *none* of these people even read the law.
Stewart Gooderman December 05, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Once upon a time, Conservative and Liberal politicians gladly talked to each other. They didn't agree on many things, but they realized that their duty was to come to some sort of compromise. It was never winner take all. Reagan and Tip O'Neil is a prime example of this. The neoconservative movement changed all that. Their attitude was: if you are not with us, you are our enemy and we will crush you. The Valerie Wilson-Plame incident is a prime example of this neoconservatism. William F Buckley, a conservative in the classic sense was absolutely appalled at what these neocons were doing and how they were doing it.
dorthy manser December 05, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I'm with you, Stewart. What I'm saying is that all of us, Left and Right, when given power, do stupid things, and none of us, Left or Right have a monopoly on the truth. Surely we can agree on that. What we need to recognize is that our political opponents are generally acting in good faith, and that they genuinely believe that what they advocate is for the greater good. Yeah, I know, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and so on, but most Americans are not those people, even the one's we disagree with.
Stewart Gooderman December 06, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Dear Ms Manser. I agree with the first part of your last comment. I do not agree with your second part. That is a Candide-like approach that Voltaire wisely tried to squash centuries ago. People like Ted Cruz are very dangerous people. They have a total disdain for their fellow citizens and use/manipulate them to get what they want. I've been on this earth over 60 years and my eyes are wide open and can spot a film-flam man the minute I see him.
Kei December 06, 2013 at 12:17 PM
And yet you still voted for him, for President? :-)
dorthy manser December 06, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Yeah, Kei, and I'm pretty sure that no matter who I voted for, I would be disappointed. They system isn't really designed to please me, and even if it were, I'm not totally convinced that the world would be a better place (although I'd like to think it would be).
Stewart Gooderman December 07, 2013 at 07:46 PM
@Kei. If you are deferring to Ted Cruz, not in a million years. If you are talking about Barack Obama the answer is yes. He was not my first choice nor was he my second. But those two were not running for the office. I certainly would not vote for the republican candidate. He was a total fake and a liar. I wasn't sure Obama would be capable of handling what needed to be done over the next 4 years as the bush administration had caused so much trouble. But the fact that he was, at least after the 1st 2 years, working with a totally dysfunctional congress (and still is), my assessment is that overall is done quite well. Not perfect as he has done certain things that have made me want to pinch him in the jaw , but quite well nonetheless.
dorthy manser December 07, 2013 at 07:53 PM
I agree with you, Steward. I think it's worth considering whether or not any of us arm chair generals could have done better.
dorthy manser December 07, 2013 at 09:31 PM
And Ted Cruz has a scary similarity to Joe McCarthy, both rhetorically and visually. Really scary.


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