Edgar’s Family Must Raise $15,000 By Sunday, June 9 Or He’ll Remain Imprisoned at the LaSalle Detention Center in Louisiana
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sheridan Aguirre | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.793.2267
Chattanooga, TN – This week, after receiving numerous letters of support from friends and family calling for his freedom, an immigration judge granted an excessive bail for Edgar Vasquez-Diaz, a father of two U.S. citizens and an 18 year resident of Chattanooga.
His family must raise $15,000 by Sunday, June 9 so that Edgar can continue to fight his case outside of detention, otherwise he will remain locked up in a detention camp in Jena, Louisiana, nearly 550 miles away from his family and community until his pending case is resolved or his deportation is executed. You can donate here and sign the petition calling for his freedom here.
His impending deportation is a result of Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond voluntarily handing him over to ICE deportation officers for driving under the speed limit.
Edgar with his spouse Anabela and their children.
LuzHilda Campos, Deportation Defense Program Manager with United We Dream, said:
“Edgar’s family and friends are overwhelmed by the support they’ve received from the community and are working to secure Edgar’s freedom from a Louisiana detention camp. We urge community members to chip in what they can — the bond set by the immigration judge is high, and it’s all in an effort to punish Edgar for an unrelated criminal conviction in 2005 and block our efforts to reunite him with his family.
We want to remind the public that Edgar’s wife and kids are fighting for their lives, all because Sheriff Hammond’s police chose to racially profile and arrest Edgar with a mundane excuse — driving below the speed limit — and voluntarily handed him over to deportation officers after the charge that led to his arrest was dropped.
Let us be clear: Edgar has lived in Chattanooga for 18 years and this is home. We will continue to organize for Edgar’s freedom and for a future where his family can live with stability and dignity.”
Background on the Case:
Edgar Vasquez-Diaz is an 18 year resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Edgar arrived to the United States from Guatemala in 2001. On Friday, 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, along with no driver’s license and no car insurance (two items that undocumented people are ineligible for in Tennessee).
At the Hamilton County Jail, Sheriff Jim Hammond’s office voluntarily cooperates with ICE, instituting a practice of initiating calls with ICE to pick people up even when ICE has NOT issued a detainer (or “immigration hold”), a request that asks a jail to hold an individual for up to 48 hours so that a deportation officer can transfer them to another facility.
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. Sheriff Hammond’s 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 urging the public to help fundraise for Edgar’s release so that he can continue his fight outside of ICE detention.
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.