Reproductive justice activist Alejandra Pablos was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Wednesday during a routine visit with her immigration officer. According to her colleagues, it’s just the latest in a series of detentions of high-profile activist leaders.
As a vocal field coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), Pablos believes she was specifically targeted by ICE after leading chants at a January protest in Virginia outside the Department of Homeland Security.
During the protest, Pablos was taken into custody by local agents. Activists from the immigrant rights organization Mijente are petitioning for her release (with some 10,000 signatures already collected), and believe that an ICE agent alerted her deportation officer, who detained her when she voluntarily checked in with her immigration officer.
Pablos was a legal permanent resident in the US until a drug-related arrest required her to spend two years in an immigration detention center in Arizona. Because of that arrest, she must now regularly check in with an immigration officer, and is granted continued stay only at their discretion. Pablos is now being detained without the possibility of bond while she waits for a decision as to whether she can remain in the country or not. She has been working to receive asylum based on the dangers she says she would face due to her work as a political organizer in Mexico.
In the petition for her relief, activists at NLIRH describe Pablos detention as just the latest in what they say has become something of a pattern with ICE.
They point to Ravi Ragbir, an immigrant activist and the director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, who back in January was similarly detained at a routine check-in with his immigration officer. Pablos, NLIRH says, is the latest victim of a new ICE strategy.
“On behalf of the whole NLIRH family, we are enraged about the injustice that Alejandra has faced, and are undeterred in the fight for her release,” said NLIRH Executive Director Jessica González-Rojas in a press release. “We recognize that Alejandra’s situation is emblematic of a trend of the Trump administration’s relentless targeting of outspoken immigrant justice leaders. NLIRH will continue to fight for a world where all Latinxs can live with dignity, autonomy, and self-determination without fear of the injustice and inhumane practices of detention or deportation.”
This new method of surprise detention during voluntary check-in has been dubbed the “silent raid,” and those in the know say the tactic has been on the rise since Trump took office.
As for ICE, a spokesperson told the online publication Rewire News that it is not their policy to “arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make.”
That being said, ICE Executive Associate Director Matthew Albence made it clear in a statement to the online publication, “ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of [unauthorized migrants] from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and — if found removable by final order — removal from the United States.”
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(Photo via Spencer Platt/Getty)