Two weeks ago, I saw the amazing reproductive justice and immigrant rights activist Alejandra Pablos speak. She called on all of us in the room to live our values, as she has done. I was struck by her compassion and deep commitment to her work and willingness to put herself at risk for her community.
Today, Alejandra sits in a detention center after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took her into custody during what was supposed to be a routine check-in. Earlier this year, Alejandra was briefly detained by local agents in Virginia after leading chants at a peaceful protest outside the Virginia offices for the Department of Homeland Security. It appears that one of the ICE agents in Virginia called her deportation officer in Tucson because when Alejandra arrived at the Tucson ICE offices, she was immediately detained.
In a Facebook video Alejandra was able to post after she was detained she stated, “ICE lied to me. I went in there in good faith. I’m doing everything that I can. It’s been a long time that I’ve been going through this case and they’re trying to really separate me and tear our movement apart and tear our community apart.”
Alejandra has lived her life in support of her community. She is an organizer with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and is a member of We Testify, which is an abortion storytelling program of the National Network of Abortion Funds. She is also a long-time member of Mijente, which has put up a petition in support of Alejandra. She certainly deserves better from us than to be held in detention and possibly removed from the country in which she has lived for most of her life.
In her Facebook post, Alejandra said, “I need you to stand up for me. I need you to fight for me. Call ICE, write letters of support, do whatever we can.” Unfortunately, Alejandra’s experience is not an isolated event; ICE has detained several immigrant rights activists in recent months. ICE’s treatment of Alejandra and these other activists is unacceptable, as is our entire immigration system that treats people who come to the United States asking only that the country live up to its values—the ones embodied in Emma Lazarus’s words, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” written on the Statue of Liberty. Instead, we are slamming the door shut on people like Alejandra and it’s shameful.
We must all be willing to stand up for Alejandra and call on ICE to do right by her and all the immigrants in our country.