When Melecio Andazola Morales arrived to his interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, he expected to take another step toward the green card he had been trying to receive for nearly 20 years. Instead, on Oct. 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained Andazola Morales after separating him from his daughter and lawyer.
UC Santa Cruz’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), a student organization dedicated to the political involvement and education of the Chicanx and Latinx community, received this news in an email from undergraduates at Yale University on behalf of fellow student Viviana Andazola Marquez, one of Andazola Morales’ four children. The email explained that after Andazola Morales was transferred to the ICE Denver Contract Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado, ICE issued an official order of deportation on Oct. 13.
“It sucks, but it’s not surprising that it’s happening, because it happens so much,” said co-chair of MEChA Oscar Montiel.
ICE performed a total of 240,255 “removals” in the 2016 fiscal year alone — 2 percent more than in 2015. These numbers do not include deportations that took place during the current administration.
Brenda Gutierrez Ramirez, co- chair of MEChA, also finds Andazola Morales’ story to be terrible but hopes MEChA’s actions and those around the country will make change.
“I’m just glad there are a lot of folks talking about it and signing petitions and doing everything they can in order to put light on this issue of injustice,” Gutierrez Ramirez said.
The Yale undergraduates asked for photos of groups from various
campuses across the nation to show support for Andazola Morales’ family and others who may be in a similar situation. #FreeMelecio, #Not1More and #NiUnaMas were some of the hashtags used to share these photos and spread the word about the detention. UCSC MEChA members met for the photo in Quarry Plaza on Oct. 17.
Yale students also shared a link to a petition for the release of Andazola Morales, aiming to receive 25,000 signatures. So far it has received over 20,000 signatures. Andazola Morales’ fundraiser page has raised a little over $69,000 of the $85,000 goal.
“We are here to support in any way possible, through donations or signing petitions or taking a picture,” Gutierrez Ramirez said. “I don’t think there are the right words to say to somebody whose loved ones are going through that, but they’re not alone and we’re here to support.”