As Trump Immigration Crackdown Continues, New Haven Rally Supports Ecuadorean Man Fighting Deportation

Excerpts of speeches by Nelson Pinos, an Ecuadorean immigrant resisting an ICE deportation order, and his supporters at a Sept. 7 rally, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus

An Ecuadorean immigrant has been living in sanctuary in a New Haven, Connecticut church for more than nine months. Nelson Pinos, a father of three, took refuge in the church after challenging a deportation order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Tina Collon Williams, Pinos’ attorney, says that after a court in Minnesota refused to reopen his case, he’s now awaiting a ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
On Sept. 7, the local immigrant rights group Unidad Latina en Accion held a support rally outside the First & Summerfield Methodist Church, attended by more than 350 people. After some short speeches and chants, the group circled up and 281 of them held up a numeral between 1 and 281 to mark the total number of days Pinos had been in sanctuary inside the church.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus attended the rally and brings us recordings of several of the speakers who addressed the hundreds of well-wishers who had gathered in solidarity.  We first hear from Nelson Pinos himself.
NELSON PINOS: It’s been 281 days that I left my house; I’ve been in this church for all that time. It’s been over nine months and I still don’t know when I’m gonna be able to go back home with my kids. Their dream is to have their daddy back home, to accompany them to school, to go to the park, to do things together. They need me, and I just don’t understand what’s the purpose of this government to separate families and make children suffer who don’t have anything to do with this. My kids are American as any of you, and I don’t think they deserve this. I hope that one day I’ll be back home with them to live the way my kids deserve. I have never done anything wrong; all I did was work hard to support my kids to give them a better life, to make sure they go to school to make sure so in the future they can become productive people to this society, and it makes no sense to me to separate families and do what they’re doing to me and many other families. Thank you for being here, thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

CROWD: Let us free Nelson! (repeat)

BETWEEN THE LINES: Both of Nelson’s teenage daughters spoke, including Arly.

ARLY PINOS: Hi everyone. I’m Arly, Nelson’s 13-year-old daughter. I wrote something to express my feelings on what has been going on with my father (cries) and how it has been affecting me. If my dad (unintelligible) this church, he’ll be taken away from me. It’s affecting not only my father, it’s affecting me as well. Every day I cry and cry; I can’t sleep at night. I can’t think straight in school and my grades have been lacking and I’m just overly stressed, all because ICE is trying to ruin my family (cries).

My father hasn’t done anything wrong. He crossed an imaginary line, so now he gets to be treated like trash? No, he is still a human being; he bleeds like any other person and he hurts like any other person. My father came to this country for a better way of living; instead he’s living in fear, not only him, but my mother and my siblings. If our country is so great, why are we making people suffer and go through these traumatic situations? I just want somebody to realize the type of pain my family is going through right now. These 281 days have been the hardest of my life, but I will not stop until my father is discharged and my family is together again. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERING)

BETWEEN THE LINES: Another of the speakers was Alan Dornan, who has been walking around his community since January on behalf of immigrants.

ALAN DORNAN: First of all, I want to say that I know that today is for Nelson. Today is for Nelson and every day until Nelson is free will be for Nelson. (Cheers) I have been walking for immigrants in my community in Wethersfield, Connecticut, since Jan. 25, the day on which I saw the U.S. Congress attempt to pass five bills, all of which they knew never could be passed, and I got mad. (cheers). So finally, after 78 years, after 78 years, I stepped across the line. I have walked for 226 days and I will continue to walk until I am no longer physically able to walk. I will walk for the DACA Dreamers, I will walk for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country (cheers). I will walk for the people on our borders. I will walk for the parents and children who have been inhumanely separated. I will walk for those people whose TPS (Temporary Protected Status) has been rescinded. I will walk for all the immigrants in the world. My life – whatever is left of it – is dedicated to immigrants because immigrants are the future of our nation. Whatever these white supremacists might say, they are on the wrong side of history. (Applause)

Learn more about Pinos’ sanctuary status and local groups who support him, by visiting Unidad Latina en Acción at ulanewhaven.org

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