Things That Matter

An Activist Read A Poem Criticizing Inhumane Immigration Policies And ICE Arrested Him Two Days Later Now His Community Is Standing Behind Him

José Bello came to the U.S. when he was just three years old. In 2018, he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) only to be released on bond after his community raised $10,000 for his freedom. After his experience in an immigrant detention center, he wrote a poem critical of U.S. immigration policy, titled “Dear America.” Bello read that poem at a public forum at the Kern County Board of Supervisors in May. 

Less than 36 hours later, he was rearrested by ICE and taken back to the Mesa Verde detention center. THE ACLU has filed a petition in the San Francisco district court claiming his rearrest is a violation of first amendment rights. Two months later, he’s still in Mesa Verde detention center, and no decision has been made by his judge.

José Bello is a student at Bakersfield College, a farmer, and a father.

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

Here’s a taste of his poem:

“Dear America,

Our administration has failed.
They passed laws against our people,
Took away our rights and our freedom,
and still expect to be hailed?
Chaless!

Dear America,

You and your administration cause fear,
fear through Separation.
Instead of building trust with our people, do y’all prefer this racial tension?

Oppressed.”

A theme runs through his poem, touching on family separation.

Credit: @MVLiberation / Twitter

He speaks to all Americans when he says:

“Dear Americans,

You might be asking yourself, “What’s the whole point of repeating these facts?”
Well I am here to let you know, we want to feel safe, whether we’re Brown, Asian or Black.
We don’t want your jobs. We don’t want your money. Were here to work hard, pay taxes and study!”

Chillingly, two days before he was separated from his baby, he said, “We will never be apart, chiquito.”

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

“The fight has begun.
“We will never be apart chiquito,” is what I promised my son.
Y’all can try to justify your actions. Try to make excuses.
The bottom line here is that at the end, the people always triumph and the government loses.”

A GoFundMe set up for Bellos says that he received a DUI under “shady circumstances.”

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

He essentially forfeited his rights without knowing it, resulting in a no contest charge. He hasn’t had a drink since and has been doing community service work as part of his plea. Bello has been compliant in paying all his fines and attended all his hearings.

There is no other known reason to detain him except in retaliation to his public criticism of the system.

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

The ACLU’s filing is entirely predicated on the close succession of the two events being the reason for his arrest, saying it “strongly indicates that ICE acted in retaliation against Mr. Bello for his speech expressing views against the agency’s actions.”

The fear is that the move will chill immigrant activists from speaking out at a time when ICE’s unchecked power and aggression is escalating.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

Still, Bello is writing poetry from the confines of Mesa Verde. This time, he’s simply asking, “why?”

Meanwhile, Judge Kim is weighing her decision after Bello finally had his court hearing July 15th.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

That’s two whole months after he was arrested. Two months away from his child. Judge Kim could take anywhere from two days to a month to make her decision. 

There is a movement is in motion to #FreeJoseBello.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

Jose Bello is a crucial member of the immigrant community in San Francisco. He’s organized a lobbying workshop for his college’s club Latinos Unidos Por Educación. He led and organized an immigrant caravan drive, to help ensure no child went without clean clothes or food. 

You can help by donating to Bello’s GoFundMe to help make his unjustly high $50,000 bond to be reunited with his son.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

The ACLU has said the $50,000 bond is “hugely unjust” since Bello is a student who makes just $20,000 a year. The GoFundMe has only raised $2,375 at the time of this publication. #FreeJoseBello.

Watch his full poem below.

READ: A Honduran Teens Says An Officer Groped Her Breast And Touched Her Between Her Legs In Front Of Officers

More Than 700 Women Have Disappeared From A Texas ICE Detention Center And Their Lawyers Don’t Know Where They Are

Things That Matter

More Than 700 Women Have Disappeared From A Texas ICE Detention Center And Their Lawyers Don’t Know Where They Are

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Across a network of more than 200 migrant prisons and municipal migrant jails, the US government is detaining roughly 18,000 people at any given moment. And that’s not including the more than 12,000 minors who are held in other facilities under the supervision of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s.

And amid this network of for-profit private prisons and government-ran detention centers, migrants are constantly being shuffled around – often without little notice to their lawyers and even family.

This time, the agency is accused of moving more than 700 women without notifying their lawyers, family, or anyone else.

According to attorneys from the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), ICE has moved more than 700 women out of a Texas detention center. And ICE gave their lawyers zero way of locating them, which is especially damning considering many of the women face serious medical conditions.

Starting on Sept. 20, the women being held at the Karnes County Residential Center were sent to other centers around the country so that the facility could be used to detain families. More than two weeks later, their lawyers from RAICES have no idea where the majority of these women are being held, and they can’t find any updated information in ICE’s online detainee tracking system.

Many of these women have serious medical conditions and not being able to advocate for their health could have fatal consequences.

“I’m really fearful that their conditions could worsen,” Meza said. “I don’t want them to be in another ICE press release about death in detention.” 

The situation highlights a common problem for migrants in ICE custody: They can be transferred between facilities with little notice and yet their new locations are not promptly updated in the system. If their existing lawyers and family members can’t find them, they may have to go through their cases without legal representation, especially in remote areas where legal counsel is sparse. And those with serious health issues could die if advocates who don’t know where their clients were transferred are unable to fight for their right to medical treatment. 

According to ICE, advocates shouldn’t worry because “adequate medical care is being provided to all detainees.”

An ICE official told HuffPost that “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody” adding that staffing includes registered nurses, licensed mental health providers, a physician and access to 24-hour emergency care. The official acknowledged that the women at Karnes had been transferred to other facilities, but did not explain why their locations were not showing up in the online system.

But given the deaths that have occurred in ICE facilities and the overall cruelty towards people in their custody, few people trust ICE’s ability to care for migrants.

At Karnes, some of the immigrants were allegedly being denied lifesaving care, such as cancer and HIV treatment, and that suicidal patients were not receiving psychiatric counseling. One woman with cancer in her uterus said she had not received medical treatment for more than two months. Another immigrant, who is HIV positive, said she was not getting her medication or being evaluated by a doctor, even as her symptoms worsened.

The lack of medical care in immigrant detention facilities is well-established. Eight immigrants have died in ICE detention centers this year, and six minors have died in Border Patrol centers, in many cases because they didn’t receive proper medical help for their illnesses. 

Technically there’s no legal requirement for ICE to inform detainees’ lawyers that they are being transferred. 

According to Andrea Meza, Director of Family Detention Services for RAICES, ICE is not at all required to inform anyone when a detainee is transferred to a new location.

There is one exception: ICE is mandated to provide notice of transfer for Salvadorans, per the Orantes Settlement Agreement — but only Salvadorans.) Otherwise, Meza says, “There’s not really anything that requires them to give us notice as to where our clients are.” 

But even if ICE did update the platform used to track migrants in their custody, lawyers said it’s rarely that reliable.

It can take up to a few weeks for someone who is transferred to a new facility to show up in the system, which means families are often left wondering whether their loved ones have been deported back to life-threatening situations in their home countries.

“I think FedEx does a better job of tracking its packages than ICE does of tracking the people it detains,” Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigrant rights attorney told HuffPo.  

Of the women RAICES has been able to locate, some are being housed at a private prison in Mississippi that the Justice Department found so poorly-managed it issued a scathing 65-page report detailing its problems. The Federal Bureau of Prisons to ended its contract with the prison earlier this year, but now immigrant women are being sent there. 

This Migrant’s Rights Group Wants To See A Mass Exodus Of ICE Employees And They Are Launching Programs To Help

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This Migrant’s Rights Group Wants To See A Mass Exodus Of ICE Employees And They Are Launching Programs To Help

John Moore / Getty Images

It seems like every week news breaks that their has been another death of someone in ICE’s custody or the agency is embroiled in some new scandal or cruel policy targeting migrants. One organization has finally had enough and is urging ICE employees to stage a mass exodus from organization.

Never Again Action is a group dedicated to preventing another holocaust and they have been very vocal in their attacks against ICE and the agency’s cruelty. Now, the group is taking their advocacy to the next level and is offering support to ICE employees who want to leave their roles and find different work.

Never Again Action is offering ICE employees dedicated, free career help if they quit their job at ICE.

An immigration advocacy group has launched a new website offering U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement workers seeking to leave the embattled agency free and anonymous career support.

The Never Again Action group’s Atlanta branch launched the website, saying it wanted to put out the call for a “mass exodus and atonement” for ICE workers “as we approach Yom Kippur.”

With the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, taking place on Tuesday, the group said it was the perfect time for ICE workers to “quit your jobs.”

The organization claims they’ve already had one ICE employee seek their help in leaving their role with ICE.


According to Never Again Action, the immigration advocacy group that launched the service, at least one ICE agent has already come forward to ask for help quitting their job and finding a new one.

“We’ve already had one ICE agent reach out to us,” the group, which was organized by Jewish community members in the U.S. determined to “never let anything like the Holocaust happen again,” said in a tweet on Monday.

The organization is moving to help avoid another holocaust by ridding the government organization of employees, according to their platform.

Branding the U.S.’s treatment of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees an “atrocity,” the website tells ICE workers: “You don’t have to work for ICE. We will help you find a better job. You don’t have to be complicit in the atrocities happening at our nation’s border and within our immigration system,” it states.

“We know quitting your job isn’t always easy, so we’re offering FREE and CONFIDENTIAL job search support so you can find a better job,” the website continues, before outlining how it will help ICE workers change their career paths.

The organization also appears to be making good on its word to help agents do just that, setting up a career support website that will match ICE workers with a “qualified career adviser.”

While it makes clear that organizers cannot guarantee ICE workers a new job, their volunteer career advisers are “dedicated to supporting you through the job hunting process so you can quit your ICE job quickly.”

The organization is offering qualified career advisors with MBAs, professional career counseling, or professional recruiting experience. And, according to their website, ‘every advisor is dedicated to giving you the support you need to find a new, better job quickly.’

“We know it’s easy for protesters to chant ‘quit your job,’ but that it’s a lot easier said than done,” the website states. “We know you have bills to pay, and might have family members relying on your salary or health benefits. That’s why we’re providing this free and confidential service: to help you find a new and better job, so you can quit your ICE job as quickly as possible.”

In a statement, ICE expressed disappointment and disgust at the organization’s initiative.

ICE sent a statement to Newsweek, ICE Acting Press Secretary Bryan Cox struck out at the initiative, calling any attempt at “demonizing career law enforcement officials…disgraceful.”

“ICE holds its personnel to the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior, and ICE employees will continue to carry out their duties professionally regardless of irresponsible rhetoric that needlessly spreads fear and misinformation that does a disservice to the communities these groups claim to represent,” Cox said.

But many aren’t buying into that narrative and recognize the grave atrocities committed by ICE against migrants.

From workplace raids that left children alone and afraid to denying basic necessities to those already in their custody and even the deaths of dozens of people, ICE is in desperate need of reform. Even those who aren’t necessarily calling for abolishing ICE, recognize that there is a great need for major institutional reforms.