For Immediate Release
Contact: Sheridan Aguirre | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.793.2267
Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent a request to Congress for an additional $4.5 billion for ICE and CBP on top of an already bloated 2019 budget.
This request comes just a few months after the longest government shutdown in history when Trump held federal workers and immigrant communities hostage in exchange for billions of dollars for his border wall and his mass deportation agenda.
Trump and ICE and CBP will continue to lead with brutality instead of humanity, and we must continue to shine a light on how they’re using billions of dollars to cause harm to our community. Below, United We Dream shares the stories of Walter Gozzer and Edgar Vasquez-Diaz, demonstrating why Congress must reject Trump’s wall and defund ICE and CBP.
#1 – Walter Gozzer (Miami, FL)
Clockwise from top left: Lily Montalvan (spouse), Walter Gozzer, and Roxana (daughter).
Walter Gozzer is a 51-year-old husband and father who was deported after 30 years of living in Miami with his wife, teenage son and young daughter. Walter arrived to the U.S. from Peru in 1988. The construction company he worked for so valued his work that in 2001 they offered to sponsor him for a visa, setting him on a pathway to citizenship so that he could permanently remain in the United States with his family. However, the company went bankrupt and the government denied his application for adjustment of status. Meanwhile, his information remained in the hands of the government who could now track him down.
Later, the company Walter worked for opened under a new LLC. In 2016, Walter asked his attorney to petition for his case to be reopened at the risk of being required to meet with ICE agents who would monitor him on a routine basis at the Miramar ICE Office. In mid-February, without warning and no changes to Walter’s case, ICE chose to arrest him during a routine check-in at the Miramar ICE Office and imprison him in the for-profit Krome detention camp, earning the detention camp money for over a month.
ICE deported Walter to Peru on March 21, 2019. The community is calling on the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen his case so that his family may be reunited.
See a video of his spouse Lily talking about Walter here.
IN THE NEWS:
- El Nuevo Herald, April 17, 2019: Los padres ante el dilema de la deportación. ¿Tendrán estos hijos que decidir entre un futuro en EEUU o su familia?
- The Guardian, April 2, 2019: ‘Racist’ Florida Republican bill raises deportation threat: ‘People are afraid’
#2 – Edgar Vasquez-Diaz (Chattanooga, TN)
Edgar with his spouse Anabel and their children.
Edgar Vasquez-Diaz is an 18 year resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Edgar arrived to the United States from Guatemala in 2001. On April 5, 2019, he was arrested for driving under the speed limit, as a result of driving behind a street sweeper.
His friend Esteban, who was in the passenger side, says: “We were driving along a one lane road, with a street sweeper in front of us, and a police car behind us. Edgar was nervous that if he passed the street sweeper by going into the opposite lane, that the police may stop him, so he just slowed down. Once the street sweeper pulled over into a gas station, we returned to normal speed. That’s when the police lights went off and we were pulled over.”
Edgar was arrested and immediately booked at the Hamilton County Jail where he was charged with driving under the speed limit, no driver’s license, and no car insurance.
At the Hamilton County Jail, Sheriff Jim Hammond’s office voluntarily cooperates with ICE, instituting a practice of taking the initiative of calling ICE to pick people up even when ICE has NOT issued a detainer (or “immigration hold”), a request by ICE for jails to hold folks for up to 48 hours so that they can be picked up.
On Tuesday, April 9 Edgar’s wife Anabela Lopez, along with community leaders and United We Dream, rallied outside the Hamilton County Jail to urge Sherriff Hammond to release Edgar and not contact ICE. The office refused.
On Wednesday, April 10 Edgar attended court where he plead guilty to no driver’s license and no car insurance. His charges for driving under the speed limit were dropped. Immediately following his court hearing he was picked up by ICE and transferred to a detention center in LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana, hundreds of miles away from his family, where he remains today. His community is calling on ICE to free Edgar and bring him home.
IN THE NEWS:
- News Channel 9 (Local ABC), April 11, 2019: UPDATE: Immigrant father taken into ICE custody
- News Channel 12 (Local CBS), April 9, 2019: View archived video here
#3 – 16 Year Old Boy Dies in U.S. Custody
From BuzzFeed News:
A 16-year-old unaccompanied Guatemalan boy died in government custody in Texas on Tuesday, officials said.
The boy, who was not identified by officials, is the third child to die in government custody since December, when a 7-year-old girl died hours after being taken into Border Patrol custody.…
The cause of death has yet to be determined. … A person with knowledge of the 16-year-old’s case said the teenager made the journey, at least in part, because he wanted to seek medical treatment related to headaches.
Need a recap on the stories and our Defund Hate report?
- The Truth About ICE & CBP: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Devastating Human Impact of the Deportation Force By The Immigrant Youth & Families Who Know It Best (Report)
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.