Dear friends, family, and [email protected],
It is with overwhelming joy that we share the news that yesterday, July 17th, 2014, RI Governor Lincoln Chafee signed an order directing our state's prisons and jails to end their practice of holding immigrant detainees for additional time in order to transfer them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The previous policy of accepting "ICE hold" resulted in unknown hundreds of our community members being unfairly held by RI authorities, sent to ICE, and deported, often separating them from family members in Rhode Island.
Today, following the order, ONA member Antonio Mejia was released after nearly 7 months of detention on $300 bail for the charge of driving without a license. Toño was arrested in Central Falls, RI in December and sent to RI's state jail, where ICE placed a hold on him. Had Toño paid bail, he would have been sent to ICE and likely deported. Instead of accepting this fate, Toño made the courageous choice to stay and fight, organizing from behind bars to pressure Governor Chafee to end this unjust practice. This victory is a testament to Toño's courage, sacrifice, and faith in the power of organized communities to defend their rights and win justice.
With the signing of this order, Rhode Island has implemented the strongest statewide policy in the country limiting collaboration with ICE. This policy comes on the heels of years of organizing against ICE holds by a strong coalition of organizations (see below for a list of campaign supporters). After numerous meetings with the Governor and other state officials, delegations, forums, press conferences, marches, rallies and call-ins, the state has finally taken action. The policy comes a month after leading gubernatorial candidates committed to ending compliance with ICE holds if elected. The policy also comes out in the midst of a lawsuit: Ada Morales, a US citizen, has sued the state and ICE for twice being detained on an ICE hold.
We celebrate this tremendous victory and the impact it will have on our communities; however, we also believe that for the hundreds who have been held and deported because of ICE holds, and for the tens of thousands who have had to live in fear for years that a routine traffic stop could lead to their deportation, that justice delayed is justice denied. Up until the night before the policy was issued, ICE was in our jail picking up members of our community. Governor Chafee bears responsibility for maintaining the holds policy for years after this issue was brought to his attention. Even now, his office tells us that the policy was issued this week in order to protect the state from liability in the ongoing lawsuit. The Governor's foot-dragging and reluctant acceptance of community demands represents a missed opportunity for moral leadership at the highest levels of state government.
Rhode Island now joins over 160 jurisdictions in 20 states rejecting ICE holds. These figures represent the victories of a growing national movement challenging the collaboration of local law enforcement in President Obama's policy of mass deportation. We celebrate our win here in Rhode Island and at the same time recommit ourselves to the fight against deportation and the separation of families. We won't rest until our communities can live free from fear of deportation. Please take a moment to read about the case of another ONA member, Ernesto Tipaz, who is currently in ICE detention facing deportation, and send ICE and email calling for his release.
Thank you again to all those who made this tremendous victory possible.
¡Hasta la victoria siempre! Until victory, always!
Olneyville Neighorhood Association
American Friends Service Committee - Southeastern New England Comité de Inmigrantes en Acción Direct Action for Rights and Equality English for Action Environmental Justice League of RI Fuerza Laboral National Organization of Women - RI Chapter Providence City Council RI Coalition against Domestic Violence RI Federation of Teachers and Allied Professionals RI Jobs with Justice RI Public Defender RI State Council of Churches Sojourner House UNITE HERE Local 217
Muy buenas tardes... soy reportera en Acontecer Latino y me gustaria conversar con un representante de ONA sobre las licencias de conducir y el caso del senor Antonio Mejia como testimonio del viacrucis de los indocumentados sin licencia en este pais. Muchas gracias
Acontecer Latino Newspaper, January 22, 2016