Nationally Renowned Immigrant Rights Leader Deported to Mexico

Sheridan Aguirre Press Releases

For Immediate Release Contact:
Rose Bookbinder: Pioneer Valley Workers Center 413-320-2028
Caroline Murray: 413-2191108

Washington, D.C. – Today, Friday February 1, 2019 Eduardo Samaniego – nationally renowned immigrant rights activist, dreamer, and community leader – will fly to Mexico after being forced to agree to a “voluntary departure” ordered by Immigration Judge William A. Cassidy on January 25th.
Eduardo was denied due process and his attorneys were not allowed to present his case. After 106 days in detention, 3 weeks of which were spent in solitary confinement, Eduardo’s only option to be free from the horrors of incarceration was to agree to voluntary departure.
Eduardo will continue to explore his options for appeal and permanent relief outside of detention while in Mexico. Eduardo’s case was fast tracked while Donald Trump shutdown the government in a fight over the funding of his border wall.
The Eduardo Support Team calls on all elected officials to defund and abolish ICE and Custom and Border Protection (CBP).
U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (MA) said, “I have so much respect for Eduardo. He is the reason I signed onto the Abolish ICE movement. I want him to know I will always be his Congressman.”

“ICE, under fire for targeting activists, has fast-tracked Eduardo’s departure,” said Caroline Murray, mentor to Eduardo and organizer with the Eduardo Support Network. “The suffering he has endured in detention has made “voluntary departure” – a form of deportation – the seemingly only route to freedom.”

“What happened to Eduardo has been extremely painful for all of us,” said Hodaliz Borrayes, organizer with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. “But this pain has ignited a fire and taught me that I must keep fighting for my community so that there will be not one more deportation.“

“We are supposed to be the country that has values and morals. We say we have a great democracy, but where are our human rights? I feel like I am losing a sense of hope,” said Lorena Moreno, worker leader with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. “But on the other hand I know not everything is lost. I still believe in American values and I believe that if the American public knew what was happening, they would rise up. We must keep sharing Eduardo’s story.”

“I think it’s horrible to see people impose their bigotry on us,’ said Reuben Chavez, who walked with Eduardo for 250 miles on the Walk to Stay Home for the Dream Act. “ICE and Judge Cassidy will never know the feeling of whether their friends are going to be here tomorrow. I don’t know if I will see Eduardo again. This administration is not only tearing families apart but it is also tearing apart our community and our friendships.”

Statement by Eduardo Samaniego written from ICE Detention, Sunday January 27, 2019
“For many years I have advocated for the civil rights of the most vulnerable in our country, I have experienced the shortcomings and inhumanities of our immigration system in mind, body and spirit, but I sincerely never imagined the extent of the inhumanities committed against immigrants in our prison industrial complex.
“This prison industrial complex has robbed me of my physical health, it has violently damaged my fighting spirit, and it continues to open my mind to see too many inhumanities.
“I cannot possibly describe the robbing of hope from inmates who are detained for the most petty violations. I have experienced and witnessed unbearable treatment and pain like that of pregnant mothers who are detained just a block away from me in the detention centers I’ve been in.
“I cannot possibly describe the sucking away of the spirit and best wishes for their future of people whose one mistake takes them into a spiraling inferno where their cries go on for days, where the necessities of specially abled people go unheard and where the most basic of individual needs are unmet.
“This process has taken away much of my ambition to make a better world through my actions and has reduced them to small expectations. There are days in which my desire to fight for access to healthcare is reduced to an expectation for what will be next meal, would I have oatmeal? Or will I have a sweet apple? This is how all of us, more than 2 million prisoners substitute our dreams and hopes the longer we stay in jail.
“My dreams and hopes – that took years to form fighting in the streets for universal healthcare, access to education, and amnesty for all immigrants – are still inside and they burn with a passion.
“But I long for the day I can come outside and continue this fight.”

Background:

Eduardo is a nationally recognized immigrant justice leader. Originally from Mexico, Eduardo moved to Georgia by himself at age 16 and graduated valedictorian of his high school class. Upon graduation, he began advocating for undocumented students to have access to higher education and was a leader with the Freedom University. After high school, he also began national advocacy for Dreamers and for full recognition of all immigrants in the United States. Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, recognized Eduardo’s capacity and granted him a full scholarship. Eduardo studied Constitutional Law and was elected to serve on the College’s Board of Trustees. In 2015, Eduardo was the victim of a near-fatal gas explosion in a Georgia apartment building. He sustained burns on 45% of his body and was hospitalized for three months. These injuries continue to affect his physical and mental health.

Eduardo is a worker leader with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Massachusetts and focused on uniting students to advocate for a clean Dream Act. In 2018, Eduardo participated in a 250-mile Dreamers march for immigration reform. Eduardo was also instrumental in leading the effort to pass Safe Communities legislation, prohibiting police collaboration with ICE.

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United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members and 48 affiliate organizations across 26 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.