Activistas En El Valle Take A Stand Against ICE
Hector Guzman, active with both MEChA de U Texas-Pan AM and the Southwest Worker’s Union, spoke with me Saturday about his action and important updates in the battle against Immigration and Custom Enforcement and their fascist tactics.
Guzman says that he was contacted by Families for Freedom, a group in New York who works primarily with black immigrants. He was told that many blacks were being sent to detention centers down south and that they were looking for some solidarity in and around the detention centers, specifically the Port Isabel Detention Facility, known to La Raza as El Corralon.
It was through this organization that Guzman and his compas began working with some of the detainees in resistance. He has made it his mission to stay up to date with the particular situations of the “more militant” detainees, as he calls them and to help to be one of many voices advocating for them on the outside.
His other mission is to encourage Latino detainees to begin some of the more militant actions, which up to now have been taken on mostly by blacks. Once they do, “the center will be ours (the immigrants),” he says, noting that he is originally from Mexico.
The militant action that he speaks about are the hunger strikes, in which over 100 people have participated . One of the strikers lost 60 pounds in 12 days. These strikes have been met with violence and beatings, according to Guzman, some of which have even caused seizures.
One compa, named Collin Roach, was was held for two years, until he started the hunger strikes and started rallying the other detainees. Then, they suddenly let him go with no explanation, and he is awaiting a hearing.
Complaints range from detainees being denied medical treatment, to a detainee death last week in the Raymondville detention facility, to detainees being deported to countries that they are not from. For example Rama Carty was moved to a detention facility after being beaten, and ICE was planning to detain him to Haiti, even through he is from the Republic of Congo.
Guzman distinguishes he action from false charity. “We explain to people que no lo estamos haciendo como para los pobrecitos que estan encarcelados. This involves all of us. They are our people.”
In general, he says that en el valle, the migra is constantly harassing people, and he objects, “we can’t be illegal; we’re people.”
In part he takes issue with established humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, for their lack of action and concern, a sentiment echoed by organizers of the Hutto protest movement here in Houston. He and his compas did convince AI to demand that the deportation of Rama Carty be suspended, a demand with which ICE has complied so far, if for no other reason that it seems Haiti won’t take him, since he doesn’t belong there.
Guzman knows that his next step is to start reaching out to la comunidad, all the while continuing to “make the black-brown alliance stronger.” He is eager to put me in touch with his compas from the group to get their input on the situation around El Corralon.
Que siga la lucha