Skip to content Skip to navigation

“We will not be silenced:” Immigrant rights activists speak out against targeting of movement leaders

“We will not be silenced:” Immigrant rights activists speak out against targeting of movement leaders

Published: January 19, 2018
Photo: AFSC / Kristin Kumpf

For Immediate Release:  Friday, January 19, 2018

Washington, DC — Today, Detention Watch Network, the American Friends Service Committee, immigrant rights activists and allies joined together for a press conference and rally to condemn Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) recent targeting of leaders and activists of the immigrant rights movement.

“ICE is an agency that regularly lies, actively hides information from the public and retaliates against anyone who speaks out,” said Danny Cendejas. “The ramp up of targeting immigrant rights activists to silence political opposition to ICE’s cruel and unjust practices is a clear example of the degradation of democratic values under the Trump administration.”

Just this month, there have been several prominent activists and community leaders from coast to coast that have been targeted by ICE, including:

  • Jean Motrevil, Co-founder of New Sanctuary Coalition of New York. Motrevil was targeted by ICE outside of his home on January 3, despite having a routine check-in scheduled for later in the month. Motrevil was transferred to the Krome Detention Center in Florida and deported to Haiti on January 16th.
  • Maru Mora Villalpando, Organizer at the Northwest Detention Center Resistance. Mora-Villalpando was sent a deportation notice by ICE despite not having an open case against her.
  • Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of New Sanctuary Coalition of New York. Ragbir was detained in New York City on January 11 at his regular check-in with ICE and immediately sent to the Krome Detention Center in Florida later that evening.
  • Eliseo Jurado, the husband of Sanctuary leader Ingrid Encalada Latorre in Colorado, was followed and detained by ICE at a Safeway while shopping for his family.  

“ICE only knows about me because of my political work,” explains Mora-Villalpando. “I have spoken out to defend immigrants in detention and shared my story as an undocumented mother. I have sat in meetings with immigration officials and challenged their practices. They are an agency whose actions have already been devastating to my community. But with the letter they delivered to my house, they are showing themselves to be an agency that silences any opposition to their practices,” she concluded.

Last week in Colorado, ICE detained Eliseo Jurado in a grocery store parking lot. Eliseo is the husband of Ingrid Encalada Latorre, a leader in Colorado’s sanctuary movement who is currently in sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Boulder. “We believe that the unjust and sudden detention of Eliseo is part of this administration’s efforts to intimidate and disrupt the powerful and growing immigrant-led sanctuary movement in the United States,” said Kristin Kumpf, Director of Human Migration and Mobility for the American Friends Service Committee. “But we’re here to say we will continue to support the prophetic witness of sanctuary leaders and demand just and humane policies that keep our families and communities together.”

Retaliation against activists has been an increasingly common tactic employed by ICE, as they are emboldened under an anti-immigrant and racist Trump administration to be less transparent, unaccountable and act with increased impunity.

“Our community is under attack,” said Kyle Barron, member of the New Sanctuary Coalition. “We will not rest until will have justice for Jean and Ravi on behalf of all immigrants and activists who shine a light on the inhumane practices of the U.S. immigration system.”

This is part of a broader  suppression of dissent and free speech from this administration. Political repression against activists has been escalating since Trump took office, when protestors were attacked and arrested during inauguration protests.

“The alliance between Inauguration Day protesters and communities fighting Trump’s anti-immigration policies is the type of solidarity needed to effectively resist escalated repression on multiple fronts,” said Miel Macchio, one of the Inauguration Day defendants acquitted of all charges in December.

As a result, activists are taking increased precautions to protect themselves, while also remaining steadfast in their commitment to expose and speak out against inhumane and unjust practices not only of ICE, but the administration at large."

“ICE and the Trump administration will not silence us,” added Cendejas. “We will continue to speak out against ICE’s egregious patterns of abuse and fight on behalf of those that they target.”

###

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.