Roberto should be home with his family

July 30, 2018

Nate Moore reports from Connecticut about an asylum seeker fighting his deportation.

ON MAY 21, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) abducted Roberto Rauda outside of the superior court building in New London, Connecticut.

Roberto was in court because he had previously been pulled over by police when his car’s tires touched the white line on the shoulder of the road. He was booked on charges that included driving with a suspended license. After being released, he sought legal counsel when he found out that he would have to appear in court.

Roberto and his family say that the lawyer Roberto hired was more of a harm than a help. Roberto’s wife Emma and the person providing translation services reported that the lawyer used fear and intimidation to get Roberto to comply with his May 21 court appearance. The translator also reportedly related to Emma that the lawyer charged Roberto hundreds of dollars more in fees than in other cases.

The lawyer told Roberto to go on that date to provide documentation that he was in the process of renewing his license. On that day, as he was approaching the court building, he was detained by ICE.

Marching in New York City to oppose Trump's immigrant-bashing
Marching in New York City to oppose Trump's immigrant-bashing (Karla Ann Coté)

Roberto currently is being held in the Bristol County Jail and House of Corrections, a detention facility in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. In mid-August, there will be a closed “review of custody” hearing where it will be decided whether Roberto will remain in detention or be released back to his family.

One justifications used to keep people in detention is that they are a “flight risk.” That over-hyped reason is especially not the case for Roberto, who lives with his wife Emma in New London and works in the community. He intends to pursue legal asylum to stay in the U.S., and the first hearing in his asylum case is scheduled for November.

Roberto’s wife Emma was granted asylum in the U.S. because she was a victim of spousal abuse in Honduras for 10 years. Her four children remain in Honduras. She says her ex-husband was able to continue to manipulate her by abusing their children. The abuser is no longer a threat, she says, but her children remain in danger. Their only security is to be with their mother in the U.S.

Roberto’s and Emma’s situations epitomize everything wrong with the U.S. immigration system. It is a system that tears families apart and victimizes those who are simply trying to survive.

Unidos Sin Fronteras New London is a group that formed recently to bring attention to immigrant rights issues. The group is currently organizing to bring attention to Roberto’s case, among others.

There are victories this group can draw inspiration from, including the recent release of Pablo Villavicencio after 53 days in ICE custody following his arrest in New York.

We need to shine a light on egregious and oppressive injustices like Roberto Rauda’s unjust abduction. We need organize a movement that can ultimately uproot the rotten system that preys on, and benefits from, the oppression of immigrants and the most vulnerable.

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