Hugo Mejia has been a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) for over a decade. He has no record and his wife and children are citizens of the United States. Mejia (IUPAT Local 83) and fellow worker Rodrigo Nunez (UBC Local 68) were turned over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents when they arrived to work at a construction project at a hospital located inside of Travis Air Force base in California. Both men have been held without due process for over 30 days now.
Similar arrests are happening all across the country, even here in Rhode Island.
In response, rallies have been held across the country. In Providence, Justin Kelley a business manager with IUPAT, in conjunction with RI Jobs with Justice, held a demonstration outside the Federal Building at 380 Westminster St. As rain began downtown Friday afternoon over two dozen people picketed the Federal Building, demanding an end to the Trump era immigration policies that target working men and women with no criminal backgrounds, like Hugo Mejia.
“An attack on immigrants is an attack on all working people,” said Kelley. “Whether you live on the west coast, or the east coast, or in the center of our country, if you attack one working person, regardless of immigration status, you attack all of us.”
“We are here supporting Hugo and all those who have been unjustly detained,” said Justice Gaines of RI Jobs with Justice, “and when I say unjustly detained I mean all of those who are detained for immigration. There’s no reason we need to have these detention centers… These centers are just extensions of the prison system, extensions of the harmful and racist laws our country continues to impose on people.”
There are plans to repeat this protest over the coming weeks, if necessary.
If you want to get involved, a website has been set up to follow Mejia’s case.
It is imperative to let Governor Gina Raimondo (401-222-2080) and RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin (401-274-4400) know that you want them to do everything in their power to protect our neighbors, regardless of immigration status.