In September 2014 immigration agents came to the house of labor leader and Oregon immigrant rights organizer Francisco Aguirre house looking to take him into custody to deport him. When he did not open the door and asked for a warrant, they left. For the next two months, Francisco took Sanctuary in a local Portland church, while his family, advocates, and faith leaders organized a campaign to stop his deportation.
But during his stay in sanctuary, ICE switched its pursuit from civil immigration to a criminal case that enlisted the participation of the U.S. Attorney. In an example of a recent increase in prosecutions for re-entry from the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Marshals served him with an indictment for a felony charge relating to Francisco’s return to the U.S. after being deported some 15 years ago. If found guilty, he could spend up to 20 years in prison before eventually being deported.
Francisco is the father of 3 children. He has lived in Portland, Oregon for almost 20 years. He is a long-time labor rights organizer at VOZ Worker’s Rights and Education Project. He has helped claim stolen wages for workers, has been involved in improving health and safety labor standards. Francisco is also one of the pioneers of advocating for the rights of day laborers across the country and along with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network helped found worker’s centers along the west coast.
Francisco came into ICE’s radar when last July Francisco was pulled over and charged with a DUI. Once in court, because there was no one harmed in the incident, and because this was his first driving offense, Francisco was given the chance to enroll in a Diversion program. This DUI, and a 15-year old charge that caused his first deportation, are the reason why Francisco is being pursued by ICE despite overwhelming evidence that he should be given a chance to stay with his family and community
Please sign the petition to support Francisco and help stop his deportation.
To: Billy Williams, Acting United States Attorney
Gregory R. Nyhus, United States Attorney’s Office
Dear U.S. Attorney Williams,
I am writing with great concern an support for Mr. Francisco Aguirre (docket case: #3:14-cr-00400-JO-1), a valued community leader, a father of three children, husband, musician, and church member who has lived in Oregon for nearly 20 years. Mr. Aguirre is currently facing charges for felony re-entry in as pursued by your office.
Mr. Aguirre is a loved community and labor leader in Portland, Oregon, where he has raised 3 children and where he has lived for almost 20 years. Francisco has been a long-time organizer at VOZ Worker’s Rights and Education Project, where he works with low-income workers and helps them fight for fair labor rights. He has helped claim stolen wages for workers, has been involved in improving health and safety labor standards, and is a musician who signs for social justice-related causes. Mr. Aguirre is also one of the pioneers of advocating for the rights of day laborers across the country working closely with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
As you may be aware, before being under your office’s jurisdiction Mr. Aguirre’s case came to the attention of ICE in September 2014. When immigration agents attempted to detain him, Mr. Aguirre saw as his only option to seek refuge in a church and seek sanctuary. There are many who believe that the felony charge was sought by ICE against Mr. Aguirre as retaliation for seeking sanctuary, a message to the immigrant community that fighting back against deportations only results in harsher penalties.
Instead of honoring his place in our community, ICE looked for a backdoor way to put him in detention and found it with your office. I urge you to re-consider the priorities of your office, and use discretion to drop the charges against Mr. Aguirre and allow him to continue to contribute to his community and remain with his family.
September 8, 2015
Dear Attorney General Lynch, Acting U.S. Attorney Williams, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nyhus,
We undersigned labor, faith, immigrant rights, and civil rights organizations write to ask that you dismiss the reentry charges currently against Portland labor leader Francisco Aguirre (docket case: #3:14-cr-00400-JO-1). We are deeply troubled by the highly unusual prosecution coming years after Mr. Aguirre’s alleged deportation and re-entry into the United States. Of particular concern is the appearance that the prosecution comes in retaliation because Mr. Aguirre publicly sought sanctuary in the Augustana Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland after ICE attempted to raid his home and separate him from his three children, two of whom are U.S. citizens.
Mr. Aguirre is an influential leader of the immigrant rights and labor movements, and he is a pillar within the community. He was the worker center coordinator for the VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project in Portland, which is a worker-led organization that empowers immigrants and day laborers to gain control over their working conditions through leadership development, organizing, and community education. Through his work as an organizer, he has helped workers collect $500,000 in stolen wages, has helped improve health and safety labor standards, and organized neighborhood clean-ups. He is a passionate advocate for people’s rights and is a musician who sings for social justice causes. Francisco is also a trailblazer of the national movement advocating for the rights of day laborers and has worked closely with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).
The prosecution of Mr. Aguirre would constitute a grave injustice for him and his family. Moreover, we are concerned that prosecuting Mr. Aguirre for reentry so many years after the alleged reentry as a result of his public activism would create a chilling effect on other immigrants who would otherwise publicly assert their rights and report labor and civil rights violations. We request that you dismiss the charges immediately.
ARTICLES ABOUT FRANCISCO
Categories: Deportation Cases, Open Cases
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