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January 26, 2010

Rejoins mounting national movement to stop inhumane deportations and separation of families

Jean is home, and back on the front lines! Here he speaks about being detained & why our fight isn't over.

For the fourth week in a row,  dozens of Jean Montrevil’s supporters gathered outside the immigrant detention facility at 201 Varick Street, this time to celebrate his release from immigration detention over the weekend.  Montrevil, who was detained at one of his regular check-ins with Immigration on December 30th, greeted supporters with a fervent call to action by highlighting the brutalities of an increasing deportation epidemic.  “Inside the detention center in York County, PA where I was held, I saw a lot of people who have been in this country for 30 or 40 years, people with families, like me.  I saw hundreds of people coming in and out.  More people are being separated from their families under the Obama administration than before.  I didn’t believe it before, but it’s true,” he remarked.  Montrevil was released after thousands signed petitions, made phone calls, and wrote letters to request his release.  Congressman Jose Serrano of the Bronx was one of several elected officials that advocated publically and privately for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exercise discretion in Montrevil’s case.

Community and religious leaders, many of whom had been arrested protesting Montrevil’s detention, joined the rally with a happy but sobering message.  Rabbi Michael Feinberg Executive Director of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition ardently reminded those gathered that even though Jean has returned, the fight for immigrant justice must increase its intensity and drive.  “Our joy at the release of our friend and colleague Jean Montrevil is tempered by the realization that countless thousands of people just like Jean remain in detention under the threat of deportation, torn from their families and communities. Only when we correct this injustice—bringing fairness and compassion to our nation’s immigration laws–can our joy be truly complete. Until then our work continues,”

Amy Gottlieb, Director of Immigration Services at the American Friends Service Committee, told us, "They shouldn't just close the dark detention cells here at Varick Street, they should stop detention everywhere."

Today’s event is part of a growing movement of immigrants and their allies nationwide who are demanding President Obama use the full power of his office to stop deportations that tear families apart.  “Mr. Obama promised hope and change but he is destroying the communities that helped elect him by increasing the scale and brutality of enforcement policies that break up families just like Jean’s,” said Janis Rosheuvel, Director of Families for Freedom, an network of immigrant families facing and fighting deportation of which Montrevil and his family are members.  “So many people support Jean because he is a symbol of why the government’s rigid focus on enforcement without discretion is just plain wrong.  Such focus does not allow all that a person is and has become to be taken into account,” Rosheuvel commented.

Indeed, people from all over the country are sending the Obama administration the message that immigrant rights cannot wait:  Today in Washington, D.C., hundreds will protest outside the headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the division of DHS that detains and deports immigrants.  At the Port Isabel Detention Center in Texas, one of the largest detention centers in the nation, 150 detainees are on hunger strike demanding an immigration system that guarantees transparency, due process and consideration for families.  Last week 10,000 people marched against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racist policies that profile and target immigrants in Maricopa County, AZ.  And four students, in a Trail of Dreams, are continuing their walk from Florida to Washington, D.C. to call on leaders to fix our broken immigration system.

“We are coming together today in front of this detention center where detainees were attacked in riot gear last week, in solidarity with Jean and all those of conscience around the country who are standing up to the madness of this cruel system,” said the Rev. Donna Schaper, NY New Sanctuary Coalition Co-President and Sr. Minister at Judson Memorial Church, where Montrevil and his family are members.  “Jean is home, but he is not free.  He is still subject to the same broken immigration laws that had him detained and he could be picked up again whenever ICE chooses. We are still fighting so Jean has the opportunity to present his situation in front of an immigration judge, as all immigrants should,” Schaper emphasizes.

"Your amazing support helped bring Jean home. Now we must let the administration and our legislators know that no family must endure these cruelties," said Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director at the New York Immigration Coalition.

New York Immigration Coalition President Chung-Wha Hong energized the crowd to use Montrevil’s release as a catalyst for change.  “Your amazing support helped bring Jean home.  Now we must let the administration and our legislators know that no family must endure these cruelties.  We must continue to fight for real, just, inclusive and humane reform.  Every detainee is Jean and we must ensure that none is separated from their families.”


Common Dreams – commentary by Amy Goodman, here

The Huffington Post, here

Associated Press, here, here

Alternet, here

Imagine 2050, here, here

B-listed, here

Feet in 2 Worlds, here

Long Island Wins, here

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sandra Doucet-St Eloi permalink
    January 26, 2010 9:26 pm

    I am happy to hear that Jean has been released justice has peaked it’s head if but for a moment however what will happen to the other detainees that cannot be deported at this time because of the earthquake and have already been detained for over 2yrs? This is the situation my husband and I are facing. My husband doesn’t qualify for TPS yet cannot be legally detained indefinitely however there doesn’t seem to be any action for those detainees as far as releasing them under supervision at least until deportations resume. If anyone can help us I would be so grateful for there is strength in numbers!

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