Issue 3: "I am not that person anymore."

Welcome to this week’s edition of IMM Print Weekly, a newsletter that showcases the stories of detained immigrants and their allies.

We seek to shine a light on how immigrant prisons and jails impact human beings and communities, celebrate the work of those advocating for detention abolition, and provide resources on how to get involved.

In this week’s issue read about how a young girl with a disability ended up in indefinte detention, a personal journey from a member of Freedom for Immigrants’ leadership council, and one immigrant’s plea for a second chance.

Intellectually Disabled Girl Detained Indefinitely Due to Judge’s Harsh Verdicts

After Abigail Hernandez — a 21-year-old high school student with a mental disability — posted a school shooting threat online, county officials stated she "had no insight as to the full ramifications of her actions" Yet, she was charged with a felony, her DACA status was revoked, & she's been detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center ever since.

“Judge Philip J. Montante, Jr. has on various occasions deemed her "too dangerous" to be released into her parents' custody and has continuously denied bond and issued deportation orders, fully aware that such orders would endanger the life and well-being of a mentally disabled and vulnerable young woman who would have no support system in Mexico.

Read the rest of Abigail’s story here.

Escaping El Salvador and Building a Life in the US

This is the first of a series of essays written by Carlos Hidalgo, a member of Freedom for Immigrants’ Leadership Council. After building a life and family in the U.S. Carlos was arrested by ICE in 2013 after cashing a bad check and spent over a year at the Adelanto Detention Center and the Theo Lacy Facility in California.

“I was shackled hand and foot and treated like a criminal when I was not.”

At Theo Lacy, Carlos organized a multi-week hunger strike of over 400 people. Since his detention, he has advocated for California's Dignity Not Detention Act, lobbied Congressional representatives like Judy Chu (D-CA) to shine a light on the system, and started a petition with over 20,000 signatures calling on news agencies to use the term "immigrant prisons."

Read the the first installment of Carlos’ story here.

Pleading for a second chance

Aroldo Rodriguez was 10-years-old when he arrived in California from El Salvador after spending years away from his parents — who arrived in the US before Aroldo to build a financially stable. He tried his hardest to adjust to his new life, however his neighborhood was a popular among gangs, and he soon became involved in order to escape the stress of his home life.

“Life became harder for me once I tried to detach myself from my gang affiliation. It is a label I can't seem to get rid of even though I am not that person anymore. I am now married and have a beautiful son […] I am determined to pay my debt to society for all the mistakes I made in my life in the U.S. I want to give back however I can.”

If Aroldo is released from detention at the Yuba County Jail, he would like to use his knowledge of gangs to help deter kids from joining them and pursue career in counseling and teaching. If he is deported I am being deprived from all this.

Read Aroldo’s story here.

Get involved

  • Freedom for Immigrants is elated to join the #GivingTuesday campaign this season. We have an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 for our National Bond Fund to bond out up to 30 people who are currently locked in immigration detention and connect them to the support they deserve on the outside. Make a tax-deductible donation here.

  • If you are in the LA County area, Tony-nominee Norm Lewis will host a night of singing and storytelling on November 8 at the Sayers Club to raise money for Freedom for Immigrants.

    Tickets and information available here.

    To share your story, reach out to Cindy Knoebel at cknoebel@freedomforimmigrants.org or Rebekah Entralgo at rentralgo@freedomforimmigrants.org.