Eduardo was denied a fair ICE hearing and is facing deportation. Here's how we can continue to take action to #FreeEduardo"
Friday was Eduardo's day in court. He was denied due process. Please see the full statement here below by PVWC, Eduardo's mother, and the Eduardo Support Network.
Statement from Eduardo Samaniego Support Network
On January 25, nationally renowned immigrant rights activist, DREAMer, and community leader Eduardo Samaniego appeared via televideo at the Atlanta Immigration Court presided over by Immigration Judge William A. Cassidy.
While on video, Eduardo was denied due process and his attorney was denied the opportunity to confer with him regarding his options. Forced to proceed against the attorney’s objections, Eduardo eventually succumbed to the pressure by Cassidy and the ICE prosecuting attorney, leaving him with no choice but to accept “voluntary departure,” a form of deportation. Cassidy overrode the objections of Eduardo’s legal team and denied their critical request for time to present further evidence.
Eduardo’s Support Network, his mother, and his legal team are conferring on next steps.
Eduardo has been incarcerated for 100 days. He has experienced severe abuse while in ICE custody, including weeks in isolation at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, a for-profit facility widely known to be one of the worst in the United States and facing multiple lawsuits for human rights abuses. Eduardo’s physical and mental health have deteriorated to such an extent that he was recently transferred to Columbia Regional Care Center (CRCC) in South Carolina, an ICE-contracted private for-profit mental health detention facility.
Eduardo was arrested in Cobb County, Georgia after forgetting his wallet and owing $27.75 in cab fare, a dispute since paid and dismissed. He was then put into ICE custody, transferred multiple times and held in solitary confinement for three weeks, a punitive measure commonly used against immigration activists. His case has received national attention. His supporters include tens of thousands of petition signers, hundreds of faith leaders and many national elected officials including U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren (MA) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (MA) and Hank Johnson (GA).
Eduardo would have been covered by the Dream Act of 2017, the bipartisan bill widely supported by the American public that failed to pass Congress on multiple occasions.
“Eduardo’s dreams for the future are now being blocked, because of inhumane Judges. And I said inhumane because the judges already had their minds made up. They refuse to see and hear the special case that my son is presenting,” said Maricela Samaniego, Eduardo’s mother. “I’m grateful for the solidarity of so many people who support my son.”
“ICE is targeting Eduardo and retaliating against leaders who are standing up against the brutal policies of this administration,” said Caroline Murray organizer with the Free Eduardo Support Network. “While the government was shut down, ICE fast-tracked Eduardo’s case in an attempt to hide the human rights abuses they inflicted. This is a flagrant violation of justice.”
“This system is not broken, it was built to criminalize our existence, to rip our families apart, and to destroy the future of people like Eduardo,” said Karla Rojas, organizer with the Free Eduardo Support Network. “Eduardo is more American than the “judge” who oversaw his case. He embodies the values that Cassidy himself can only hope for.”
“We must embody the same fearlessness that Eduardo carries with him everywhere he goes. As an organizer, Eduardo displays courage, brilliance, and relentless commitment,” said Rose Bookbinder, Lead Organizer with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. “To subvert ICE’s agenda of terror, Eduardo has been public and outspoken about his status. We will continue to fight for his freedom and for the freedom of the tens of thousands of people who are being targeted by ICE.”
Eduardo is a nationally recognized immigrant justice leader. Originally from Mexico, Eduardo moved to Georgia by himself at age 16 and graduated valedictorian of his high school class. Upon graduation, he began advocating for undocumented students to have access to higher education and was a leader with the Freedom University. After high school, he also began national advocacy for Dreamers and for full recognition of all immigrants in the United States. Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, recognized Eduardo’s capacity and granted him a full scholarship. Eduardo studied Constitutional Law and was elected to serve on the College’s Board of Trustees. In 2015, Eduardo was the victim of a near-fatal gas explosion in a Georgia apartment building. He sustained burns on 45% of his body and was hospitalized for three months. These injuries continue to affect his physical and mental health.
Eduardo is a worker leader with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Massachusetts and focused on uniting students to advocate for a clean DREAM Act. In 2018, Eduardo participated in a 250-mile Dreamers march for immigration reform. Eduardo was also instrumental in leading the effort to pass Safe Communities legislation, prohibiting police collaboration with ICE.