Standing up for the Vermont organizers

April 3, 2017

Chris Legere and Akunna Eneh report from Boston on a rally to support immigrant rights activists caught in the Trump administration's ICE net.

RESPONDING TO the Trump administration's blatant attempt to weaken the growing immigrant rights movement by using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target activists, some 200 people rallied in Boston to support three organizers detained in Vermont.

Protesters rallied outside a Boston Immigration Court on March 27 to demand the release of Enrique "Kike" Balcazar, Zully Palacios and Alex Carrillo, three members of Migrant Justice, an immigrant rights organization in Vermont that mobilized many members to Boston for the hearing.

The cold and rainy Monday morning did little to deter people from coming out to support these activists and also failed to dampen the spirit of the action. A group of musicians played music, and people danced and splashed in puddles while people marched in front of the court building chanting "Not one more!" and "Free Alex! Free Zully! Free Kike!"

A contingent from the ACLU was present, as well as members of the immigrant rights group Cosecha, who had signs advertising the upcoming "Day Without Immigrants" planned for May 1. Individual activists who had been following this campaign were also involved.

Lymarie Deida demands the release of her husband Alex Carrillo from ICE detention
Lymarie Deida demands the release of her husband Alex Carrillo from ICE detention (Sarah Betancourt | Latino USA)

"This is a real struggle--we have to be more united than ever," said Margalis Trancoso, a veteran activist in the immigrant rights movement. "We have to resist in collective action." She also emphasized preparing for May 1 actions, adding, "I've been organizing May Day for 24 years. This is an opportunity to show how necessary we are" to the economy.

BEFORE THE hearing, which was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., the crowd gathered under cover from the rain to listen to a few speakers. Will Lambek from Migrant Justice talked about how ICE is "trying to break the spirit of the community" by targeting well-known activists.

Alex Carrillo's wife Lymarie Deida, who was with him when he was detained, continued with that theme, saying, "That's why they were detained--for thinking their rights matter. And they do!" She also described how frightened she was when ICE took her husband away and how the campaign that has developed demanding his release has led her to be "reborn into a warrior."

A delegation of about 50 activists went inside the courthouse before the hearing started to pack the courtroom to show support for Kike, Zully and Alex. Outside, a banner with the names of 10,000 people who had signed a petition demanding the activists' release was displayed below the room that the hearing was taking place in.

The delegation inside reported that they could hear the chants of those still standing in the rain outside.

After the hearing, the judge set the bond for Balcazar and Palacios at $2,500 each. They have since been released and have returned home to Vermont. Carrillo, however, was denied bond because of a DUI charge, in spite of that charge having already been dismissed.

While activists are right to celebrate the release of Balcazar and Palacios, this is only a partial victory. Carillo's continued detainment is devastating for his wife and their 4-year-old daughter. In addition, Balcazar and Palacios still face deportation. The fight must continue, and the movement needs to build on the solidarity that has been crucial to the struggle so far.

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