Press Releases

For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross PostingDecember 8,  2016Contact: Armando Carmona, 323-250-3018; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ; Day Laborer Network Statement on Pres-Elect Trump Labor Secretary Pick Los Angeles— On Thursday, President- elect Trump announced the selection of Andy Puzder for Secretary of Labor, pending approval. Mr. Puzder is the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. parent company CKE Restaurants, a multi-national fast food conglomerate. In 2012 Puzder’s salary and compensation was reported as $4.485 million by Bloomberg, and he has been a vocal opponent of any minimum wage increases. In response to the selection, Cal Soto, Workers Rights Coordinator for the National Day Laborer Organizing network issued the following statement: “Almost across the board, president-elect Donald J. Trump’s cabinet choices are millionaires who have dedicated their careers to exploiting workers and doing everything possible to eliminate benefits and protections for them. Andy Puzder is a fast food executive that makes almost 300 times the amount of his employees in any given day, yet he still opposes minimum wage increases for the working people of this country.” “It is clear that the incoming administration will not only launch a full-scale assault on the rights of immigrants, but is also prepared to do the same to workers across the country. The Secretary of Labor will have discretion on how federal wage enforcement is funded, what wage-theft cases are pursued, and how to preserve the lives of workers through health and safety regulations.” “Now more than ever it is crucial to continue the local fights for worker justice. For example,  Fight For 15 has achieved tremendous victories that are benefiting all workers; we must continue to unapologetically support their efforts. “Day laborers, who have been on the front lines of this fight for decades, are now facing immense criminalization as immigrants and will likely be confronted with many more attempts to exploit their labor as protections from the federal government are rolled back. But even now, on the corners and in worker centers throughout the country, they are actively defending and preserving the rights of all workers.” “No matter who takes over the highest office, day laborers will continue to stand and fight to ensure safe and just workplaces for all, and NDLON will continue to support these efforts.” ###
For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting December 7,  2016 Contact: Armando Carmona, 323-250-3018; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ;   Day Laborer Network Issues Statement on CA Values Act   Los Angeles— On Wednesday, California Senate Pro Tem Kevin De León (D- Los Angeles) introduced SB 54, the California Values Act which would “prevent the use of state and local public resources to aid federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in deportation actions.”   In response, Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:   "The introduction of the California Values Act by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León sends a clear signal that our state won’t be infected by the paralyzing culture of suspicion that has taken hold of national politics.  For too long, an absence of leadership in Washington DC has created a vacuum that has been filled by scapegoating rhetoric and criminalizing policies that divide and endanger local communities.      “When signed into law, the California Values Act will ensure a clear statewide standard that appropriately respects the rights of all residents.”   ###
For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross PostingNovember 21, 2016Contact:IUPAT: Gavin McDonald, 202-351-8547, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ;AFL-CIO: Carolyn Bobb, 202-637-5018, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ;NDLON: Armando Carmona, 323-250-3018 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ;The Worker Institute at Cornell: Prerna Sampat, 847-340-1658, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n Labor Organizations Launch Innovative New Phone App to Redress Wage Theft and Worker Abuses As Donald Trump Prepares to take over Presidency, Immigrant Workers Prepare to Defend Themselves New York, N.Y. – On Monday November 21st, New York-based day labor worker centers, national labor unions, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) formally announced the launch of an innovative new tool to combat wage-theft and labor exploitation among immigrant workers.    Two years ago, day laborer centers in New York began a bottom-up effort to utilize new technologies to solve epidemic of minimum wage violations.   While wage theft, or the denial of earned wages, is rampant across many industries, day laborers are particularly susceptible for many reasons including misperceptions about their immigration status. The new App was designed by and for day laborers, and it can be used by all vulnerable immigrant workers.   The Jornaler@ App, (pronounced Jornalera, the Spanish language word for “day laborer") will allow users to safely combat instances of wage theft by reporting abusive employers and other violations. The information compiled by the App will be administered by day laborer worker centers, labor unions and other organizations that wish to participate. “Immigrant worker centers are honored to work with our brothers and sisters within the AFL-CIO to forge the next chapter in worksite enforcement strategies” Pablo Alvarado, the Executive Director of NDLON.  "Particularly now, as xenophobes seek to divide workers and undermine government institutions, we must organize, innovate, and stand together to defend ourselves. This new App will encourage organizing and will send a powerful message to abusive employers that wage theft will not be tolerated." This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the AFL-CIO’s historic partnership with NDLON, which sought to end the denial of wages to immigrant workers, and opened the door for worker centers to formally participate in the labor movement. “The launch of this app is very important. This is an example of using technology as a tool for shared prosperity,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We want to make sure that every worker in this country knows that they are not alone. We continue to stand firm on the side of all working people and commit to protecting these day…
For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting November 18th 2016 Contact: Sandra Hernandez, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ; Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 MALDEF AND NDLON ANNOUNCE JOINT IMMIGRANT CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENSE EFFORT Two Leading Immigrant Rights Organizations Establish Fund and Seek Donations (LOS ANGELES) – Less than two weeks after Donald J. Trump was elected president, two national civil rights groups announced the launch of a joint legal defense fund aimed at protecting and advancing immigrants’ civil rights in the United States.   Today's announcement by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and NDLON (National Day Laborer Organizing Network) comes in the wake of growing concern among Latinos and immigrants who fear the new administration may move swiftly to undertake mass deportations and adopt other unlawful immigration enforcement policies.   "President-elect Trump’s promise to terrorize, incarcerate, and expel immigrants has already ignited a bottom-up effort to defend and fight for the rights of immigrants and those targeted by his divisive rhetoric,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of NDLON. “While the President-elect's policies are unpredictable, those of his closest advisors are not. They are the architects of some of the country’s most anti-immigrant legislation and their strategy is beginning to unveil itself. This fund will ensure that the next chapter in the long struggle for social justice and civil rights is written by immigrants.”   The new initiative will focus on bringing legal challenges against any new and unconstitutional immigration enforcement actions, including unlawful raids. The funds will also help strengthen organizing in support of immigrants and their families.   "The Latino immigrant community will not be alone in confronting any draconian federal enforcement tactics or any state or local excesses catalyzed by the change in presidential administration," said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.  "We are proud to work once more with our frequent partner, NDLON, and look forward with confidence to having the resources to deliver the most vigorous defense of the Constitution and of all of our immigrant community members."   The fund has already received backing from high profile artists, including Grammy winner Linda Ronstadt, Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, singer Aloe Blacc, Snow Tha Product and others who have rallied in support of civil rights and immigrants.   This isn’t the first time both organizations collaborate to protect immigrants’ civil rights. In 2010, NDLON and MALDEF successfully challenged a Redondo Beach ordinance…
#SanctuaryCampus #ICEoutofSchools ICE out of all schools, colleges, universities, and technical institutes!! The last ten years have seen an unprecedented expansion of immigration enforcement programs seeking to entangle themselves with local and state institutions to advance unjust deportations. School officials and campus police departments have also been targeted and most are already sending information to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If ICE has already acted like a rogue agency in the past, the election of Donald Trump makes it urgent to enact and defend strong campus sanctuary policies. The tools below can provide some guidance, including ICE's own policy, background info, and model language. For over a decade, NDLON has worked with immigrant communities across the country in advancing local policies to reject ICE collusion with local law enforcement. MODEL CAMPUS POLICY (FACTSHEET) POLICY ON "SENSITIVE LOCATIONS" ICE detention requests have (repeatedly) been found unconstitutional. Federal courts have ruled various times about the unconstitutionality of ICE's warrantless detainer requests ("ICE holds"). This is a recent court ruling, by a federal court based in IL.   Model City Policy  CAL STATE UNIVERSITY & the #BringJoseBack CAMPAIGN  In early 2016, a father of six US citizen children, including a US Marines Veteran, was stopped by Cal State Long Beach campus police for a broken headlight. Jose Alvarez was transferred to ICE because of a 21-year old conviction (for which he served time), and deported within 7 hours. Jose's family has launched a campaign to bring back their father and make this doesn't happen again. And the CSU community continues to demand more from its administration to ensure this cannot happen again. Sign-on your organization to demand President Obama #BringJoseBack       Cal State University Chancellor's Memo  Letter from CSU President & General Order 55 IN THE NEWS Growing movement calls universities to limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement State University system to protect undocumented immigrants LA students ask their mayor to defy Trump by building a model sanctuary city  OPED: UC San Diego needs a strong sanctuary campus policy  CSULB's general order 55 made permanent  Student groups demand UCSD become a sanctuary campus  Breitbart on sanctuary  Connect with other students  _______________For more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n  
For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross PostingNovember 13th 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 NDLON Responds to 60 minutes interview by President-Elect Donald Trump Los Angeles, CA ­– In response to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s comments on immigration during an interview on 60- minutes the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statements: Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director, said: “It may be that President-elect Trump is trying to moderate expectations, and we frankly have no choice but to wait to see what policies actually emerge.   However, we will do everything within our power to prevent all deportations, particularly among those people who he criminalizes.    "Already, racist rhetoric is contributing to the unlawful mistreatment of immigrants.   But campaign rhetoric is one thing.  Soon Mr. Trump will be called upon to head the executive branch of government, and we will confront that moment when it comes.     "In the meantime, our focus will be on a renewed effort to convince President Obama to sever the link between police and ICE that his administration created.  He has 65 days to innocculate against a domestic human rights crisis that his own policies fomented." Chris Newman, Legal Director, said: “The US Constitution will be a hedge against any plan President-elect Trump has when it comes to deportations.   Despite whatever expectations are held among the xenophobes within his base, it is a fact that core civil rights protections are owed to all people living in the United States, regardless of immigration status.   Any effort to violate those rights will be met with with immediate litigation.    Immigrants might not have been born in the US, but they are now tasked with defending the country’s constitutional values.” ###
For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Posting //November 10, 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 National Day Laborer Network Calls for Broad-based "Alto Trump" Campaign to Defend Immigrant Rights in Short Term and Confront Systemic Racism in Long Term Groups Convene Popular Assembly in Los Angeles on Tuesday November 15th, Launch National Web-based Platform Los Angeles ­— As the reality sinks in that President-elect Donald J. Trump will soon control the executive branch of government, day laborers and immigrant rights activists gathered in Los Angeles to announce a call to action for immigrants and people of color to resist fear, gather resources, and prepare to defend their civil rights.   There is widespread belief that Trump’s electoral victory is a direct result of ascendent white nationalism and is a reassertion of systemic white supremacy within the US government. While it is impossible to predict what Trump will do when in office, immigrant rights organizations are taking steps to prepare for what lies ahead in light of the explicit and sustained attacks on immigrants during Trump’s presidential campaign.    The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) plans to reboot a successful campaign it led to resist Arizona’s SB1070 through its website and related organizing. Today, NDLON announced the creation of, a portal that will serve as a hub for its efforts to defend immigrants rights. The website will provide a place where people can contribute resources in support of immigrants, and it will itself be a resource serving immigrants who are organizing among themselves. Throughout the country, a series of Asambleas Populares are planned with the collaboration of worker centers and immigrant rights organizations nationwide, where local community organizations are preparing a bottom-up defense of basic human and civil rights.   “Our first task is to shed fear about what lies ahead. There is still uncertainty about what may come next, but what we do know is that the path forward will require a deep investment in our own community. We can not afford to place trust in the same political strategies that have failed. We must build and defend our own institutions," said Pablo Alvarado, Director of NDLON. He continued, “President-elect Trump has essentially declared war against immigrants. We have no choice but to stand up and fight.” “My son is young an undocumented. He could be detained or deported by the racist immigration policies of this country—and…
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 08:04

Fear Won Last Night, But Fear Can Be defeated

For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Posting //November 9th 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 Fear Won Last Night, But Fear Can Be defeated Los Angeles, CA— As the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election concludes, Donald J. Trump has been declared president-elect. In response, Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network has issued the following statement: "Fear has been the driving force of this presidential election. A fear which has spurred hatred, promoted violence and created an environment where families worry about their future, about their loved ones. Fear won last night, but this type of fear can only be defeated by courage and action.    "Although people all over the country and all over the world are feeling tremendous uncertainty and anxiety about what will come tomorrow, there are certain things which have yet to change. The road ahead of us has always been difficult, it has never been given. Every single gain of the immigrant rights movement has occurred because of our ability to fight together. "Today, everyone in this country has to get back to work. However difficult our jobs may seem now, it does not compare to the families fighting to feed and shelter their families, to provide safety for their kids. "President-elect Trump has mocked, bullied, threatened and humiliated our community. Additionally, many of his supporters are now inspired to instigate violence and inflict physical violence against our people. We will now have to be more vigilant and work harder to defend our families and our communities. We don’t hate Trump, but we definitely don’t fear him either."
For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Posting //November 7th 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 Regardless of Who is President, Immigrants and Day Laborers Must Organize! Los Angeles, CA-- As the United States Presidential election comes to a close, Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement: “While this tumultuous election season has served as a stark reminder of the deep racial and class divide that continues to plague this country, it has also reinvigorated a sense of urgency for those who are organizing to empower vulnerable communities. This presidential race has been an ugly spectacle revealing a widening separation between politicians and everyday people.  Unfortunately, sensationalist voices in the media have contributed to polarization, and the absence of policy debate about immigration has only served to intensify the criminalization of immigrants and people of color. “Under President Obama, we have faced a mass deportation machine that has deported immigrants in numbers unmatched by any other president in the history of the United States. A lesson learned is that we should be weary of politicians whose brutal policies belie their benevolent rhetoric. “There is no doubt that President Obama’s policy choices were constrained by a white nationalist movement that sought to delegitimize his presidency.  And regardless of the outcome tomorrow, those people are not going away.  Their hatred against ’the other' has only been fueled by this election, and they will continue to target immigrant communities and use public institutions and public policy to justify legitimize their violence. “Whether we get President Clinton or President Trump tomorrow, immigrants, day laborers and people of color must organize and be prepared to fight for our rights.  In the short term, we might not be able to fix broken institutions in Washington DC, but we can come together to defend our communities at the local level.   As the song says, immigrants get the job done; and starting tomorrow, we will get back to work advancing civil, labor, and human rights." ###
For Immediate Release //Please Excuse Cross PostingNovember 4th 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 Day Laborer Network to Support Baton Rouge Reconstruction Efforts **The Brigade will arrive in New Orleans on Monday November 7th and will work until November 21st 2016. Participants will be available for comment and interviews. Los Angeles, CA-- On Monday, the day laborer network announced the creation of the “Safe Reconstruction Works Brigade” that will travel to Baton Rouge to support workers assisting in local reconstruction efforts. The brigade consists of day laborers, organizers and trainers who are authorized to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) trainings to workers. In August, Baton Rouge faced historic levels of rainfall that resulted in devastating flooding. The communities most affected are populated by people of color. According to local government reports, over 53,000 residential houses and 3,800 commercial buildings have been affected by the immense flooding. Many of the workers involved in the cleanup process are immigrant laborers who reside in New Orleans (only an hour away) and are subcontracted by medium sized or larger employers, as well as homeowners. “The devastating disaster in Baton Rouge provides unique opportunities and challenges to do right with the environment, residents and workers"” said Omar Henriquez, coordinator of the Brigade. “the people doing the clean up an reconstruction work are low income and immigrant laborers. In collaboration and with the assistance of our partners we'll make sure that workers are trained to do the the job without risking their safety and health” he concluded. For two weeks, the Brigade will focus on training workers around Health & Safety issues in construction sites, will host a series of “know your rights” workshops, and alert workers on labor violations common for day laborers. The Brigade is part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the role of day laborer organizing and the impact of worker centers in response to local disaster relief and reconstruction efforts. As the occurrence of these catastrophic events becomes more frequent worker centers will have an important role to play in response and relief efforts. Not only have workers been central to reconstruction efforts, but in many cases they have been emergency responders. By training day laborers as first responders to recognize and mitigate the common dangers that arise after a disaster, the poor communities that bear the brunt of climate change will become more resilient. Those workers and their…
For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross PostingOctober 27th 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 NDLON Response to New 287(g) Agreement in Harford County, Maryland Los Angeles -- On Wednesday, the Harford County Sheriff's Office in Maryland signed an agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office that officially declares their participation in the 287(g) program. While the Sheriff uses tired claims arguing efforts to “protect public safety” the program has been widely criticized as one that not only criminalizes immigrants, but actually undermines the work of local police. In response to this announcement NDLON issued the following statements. Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON said: “We were stunned and baffled by the news that the 287(g) program has brought back to life by the Obama Administration.  We call upon the President and DHS Secretary Johnson to immediately terminate the 287g program which has criminalized immigrants, resulted in massive civil rights violations, and endangered communities by undermining community policing." Salvador Reza of Tonatierra in Phoenix, Arizona said: "Joe Arpaio is exhibit A as to why 287(g) should have been discontinued on Janet Napolitano’s first day at DHS.  Instead, the Obama Administration chose to pursue the Arizonification of the country by entangling the mass incarceration and mass deportation systems.  In Maricopa County, the truth is that DHS has been an accomplice to Arpaio’s civil rights violations, and the the Department of Justice has helped them both get away with the crime. The decision to expand the 287g program at this point is disgraceful." ###
For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross PostingOctober 19th 2016Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , 323-250-3018 NDLON Response to 3rd Presidential Debate: Immigrant Worker Rights Take Center Stage! Washington, DC -- In response to statements about immigration that occured during the third presidential debate, Cal Soto, Worker Rights Coordinator at the NDLON issued the following statement: "I'm glad that the exploitation of immigrant work was finally given a national stage during the debate tonight. When Hillary Clinton highlighted Donald Trump's abuse of undocumented workers, underpaying them and threatening retaliation when they asked for fair treatment, she was also calling out thousands of rotten employers across the United States. “No one understands better than day laborers the United States' dependence on - and exploitation of - immigrant work.  The simple truth is that Donald Trump would accept immigrant workers' labor without accepting their humanity.    And his racist demagoguery is consistent with his own predatory business model.  For the last year, Trump’s dehumanizing and racist language has emboldened predatory practices of those same employers who take advantage of all vulnerable workers, and purposefully creates divisions between native-born and immigrant workers. " "Thankfully, a proposed solution exists to stop the racist, anti-immigrant business model embraced by Trump and his ilk:  Whistleblower protections should be provided for any immigrant worker who comes forward to defend labor and civil rights.  As we move from a rancid political debate to a discussion about actual policy, we hope the Obama Administration and the next administration provides legal status to immigrant workers who come forward.  There are steps that can be taken today, without the approval of our currently broken Congress and without violating the injunction in Texas v. US.” Follow a special live-streamed post-debate discussion by day laborers: ###
Media Advisory for October 19th (Presidential Debate)Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 Day Laborer Organizations to Host Facebook Live Discussion following Third Presidential Debate WHAT: Day laborer and immigrant rights panel discussion following third presidential debateWHEN: Wednesday October 19th, 7:30pm PSTWHERE: Pasadena Community Job Center (500 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena, 91101) Los Angeles, CA -- On Wednesday, October 19th, day laborer and immigrant rights activists will host a panel to respond and give immediate reactions to the third and final presidential debate of 2016. Day laborer community members will be available to respond regarding important issues around workers rights, labor protections, immigrant and refugee rights. **Media and press are welcome to attend.***Day laborer and immigrant rights community members will be available for interviews** ###
Press Advisory for October 18Contact: Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018 Abuela Xochitl Files Civil Rights Complaint against LAPD and Department of Homeland Security Immigrant Grandmother Jailed for 6 Months as a Result of Racial Profiling Files Civil Rights Complaints with Department of Homeland Security and LAPD Abuela Xochitl Hernandez Calls on DHS to Close Her Deportation Case Who:     Xochitl Hernandez, her attorney, and community membersWhat:     Xochitl Hernandez and her lawyer will issue brief statements and deliver complaints to DHS and LAPD Where:     ICE Office, 300 North Los Angeles Street, Los AngelesWhen:     Tuesday October 18, 2016 at 10:00am ***Press Statements will be given prior to delivery of complaint Los Angeles, CA – On Tuesday, “Abuela” Xochitl Hernandez will file two complaints challenging gang and racial profiling by ICE and LAPD. A February 2016 arrest by LAPD resulted in Ms. Hernandez’ prolonged detention and designation as a top deportation priority by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The complaints, directed to the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS CRCL) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), call for an end to Ms. Hernandez’ deportation proceedings, accountability for the actions which led to Ms. Hernandez’ arrest and detention, and policy reforms. “I am afraid that ICE or the police will show up at my house and take me away at any moment. I am no longer in jail, but until ICE closes my deportation case, I will continue to feel imprisoned in my own home,” said Xochitl Hernandez. “I want my case to be closed, but I also want to make sure this does not happen to anyone else. If the police and ICE can say that I should be deported just for living in a community with a gang presence, they can say that about any immigrant living in Los Angeles. That is not right.” LAPD and ICE agents took Ms. Hernandez into custody on February 24 for being in an East Hollywood house the police raided looking for a robbery suspect. She was neither a suspect nor charged with any crime and LAPD acknowledged she is not even in its overbroad gang database. Nonetheless, LAPD arrested her and transported her to Rampart Police Station—on account of her immigration status alone; ICE then transferred her to immigration detention. “ICE has identified Ms. Hernandez as a deportation priority based on false and…
For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross-Posting // October 13, 2016Press contacts: Tara Tidwell Cullen, 312.660.1337, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n ; Armando Carmona, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. \n , (323) 250-3018,  100+ Organizations Call Upon DOJ to Drop Felony Charges Against Salvadoran Mother and End Practice of Criminalizing Refugees St Louis, MO — More than 100 immigrant rights, civil rights, faith, and domestic violence organizations demanded that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan in St. Louis drop felony charges against Salvadoran asylum-seeker Zenayda del Carmen Sorto. The Justice Department is prosecuting her for allegedly not cooperating with her deportation before she was given an opportunity to apply for asylum. “After my 16-year-old son was murdered, the police told me I should flee because there was nothing they could do to protect me. I tried to stay but after my abusive spouse nearly killed me, I knew I had to go. I can’t go back.” Zenayda explains. “I’ve been imprisoned for nearly a year, and even though it has been a horrific experience, I’m willing to stay here as long as it takes to present my case. I only ask to be able to present my case to a judge, because deportation to El Salvador would be a death sentence for me.” Zenayda has been in U.S. Marshals custody at St. Genevieve County Jail in eastern Missouri since June. Before that, she was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since she arrived in the United States in November 2015. Her first asylum screening took place over the phone from an ICE detention center before Zenayda had spoken with an attorney. On the basis of this interview, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied Zenayda the chance to present her case to a judge and ICE attempted to deport her. After intervention and months of advocacy by attorneys at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), the Chicago Asylum Office had agreed to conduct a new asylum screening of Zenayda. Instead, ICE pressured her to accept her deportation and, when that failed, transferred her to the Justice Department where she now faces felony charges. An ICE agent also sexually assaulted Zenayda while she was in ICE custody. NIJC and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) have launched a #SolidarityWithZenayda campaign calling for the Justice Department to release Zenayda from custody and for DHS to permit her to apply for asylum. “Because of the Obama administration’s zealous efforts to block Central American refugees from protection and their criminalization…
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