Today, Jaime Valdez who was deported by ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) in retaliation for his and his families’ civil rights organizing, presented himself at the Nogales Port of Entry to request that the case of he and Ardani Rosales, another civil rights leader planning to also present himself later, be re-opened and that they be granted humanitarian parole. Jaime was detained by Border Patrol while requesting his right to return home while Ardani plans to follow in his footsteps tomorrow morning.
Surrounded by a crowd of supporters including Ardani’s three-year-old son, the Puente Human Rights Movement, Arizona Dream Act Coalition, and others, Jaime was detained as he presented himself at the border, drawing into question why he and Ardani were deported for their efforts to make immigration systems more humane when the White House has stated the same goal.
Interview with Valdez this morning on Democracy Now! before presenting himself at the border:
Wednesday morning, as Ardani crosses, supporters will begin a 3-day march from Phoenix to the Eloy Detention Center (where Jaime could possibly be held) to demand the right to return for Jaime and Ardani and the release of other families detained there.
Jaime Valdez was deported in the middle of the night while Phoenix police attempted to evict his father and others from their two-week long hunger strike outside the ICE office in Phoenix. Ardani was secretly removed from the detention center where he was held using multiple decoy vehicles at the same time as his family and supporters held a vigil in front. Both were deported without any notice, cutting short their appeals processes.
Jaime says, “I should have the right to continue fighting my case. The president says he wants humane treatment which is exactly what I was fighting for when ICE retaliated by deporting me.”
At a time when the President is requesting a review for more humane procedures, his enforcement agency is utilizing deportation as a weapon against immigrants and detainees who’s organizing seeks the same goal; better and more fair treatment. Jaime and Ardani seek to return as the Obama administration reaches the two million deportation mark, and migrant communities plan April 5th events across the country to demand the administration expand relief and halt deportations.
Naira Zapata, Ardani’s fiancee, says, “Why is ICE deporting people who are just here to work and have a family? Why are they doing this to many families and why did they do it to mine? Now that he is coming back, I am so happy because we were a family, but we were a divided family. Now that he is coming back home, my children, Ardani, and I will be once again united.”
*****Feature photo taken by Clarissa Tapia