Militant Journalism

Tampa rallies against ICE: “Keep families together!”

Photo by: Kimberly DeFalco

On Tuesday morning, many gathered in front of the ICE offices in Tampa, in support of Luis Blanco. Blanco is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, who has called Florida his home for the last 20 years. He is a father of six, and his wife is expecting a seventh child very soon.

Religious leaders and local activists came out in full support of Blanco and his family, highlighting the racist and inhumane laws that the Trump administration was enforcing, as well as optimistically hoping for the best in regards to Luis’s status.

Marc Rodrigues, one of the central organizers behind the “Circle of Protection”, said that it was a collaboration that helped put the support group together. Some of the groups that were involved were the Hillsborough Community Protection Coalition, the Allendale United Methodist Church located in St. Petersburg, and the local Tampa DSA chapter.

Without much surprise, there was pushback from federal officers and local security. They threatened supporters, claiming that permits were needed, and that demonstrations were not allowed on federal land.

After some time, word broke out that Luis Blanco was to be detained. According to his attorney, Daniela Hogue, it is likely that he will be sent to Miami’s Krome Detention Center today where his case will be further evaluated. Typically, Hogue’s job is to prove any hardships that would happen to one’s family if they were to be deported.

Photo by: Kimberly DeFalco

In Luis Blanco’s case, he means everything to his family. Blanco, who works in construction, is the sole breadwinner of his family. His wife, Lourdes, is unable to work with her current pregnancy, and was already under immense stress regarding her own status as a DACA recipient. Blanco’s oldest daughters are already planning on getting jobs, so they can support their pregnant mother and siblings.

A person with any sense of humanity would know that tearing this family apart would be destructive. Hogue has clearly provided an over-abundant amount of evidence proving that Luis is needed for the survival and well-being of his family.

But things have worsened since Trump took office. What little humanitarian consideration ICE may once have given to immigrants is now gone. ICE has no compassion, they make their decisions solely on what they perceive to be a “violation”. Hogue said that she “was not too surprised” with the decision.

“I was hoping that they would take into consideration some of the new evidence (his wife’s pregnancy) that we presented, but it seems like their minds were already made up before we walked through the door.”

Hogue fears that Mr. Blanco will eventually be deported, based on recent similar cases.

Photo by: Kimberly DeFalco

Supporters and organizers were distraught once they heard the outcome. Rodrigues stated that they must remain steadfast in doing whatever they can to protect immigrants and prevent future deportations.

On February 1, there will be a community rally and press conference (“Keep Families Together!”) at Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg from 7pm to 8:30pm. Hosting organizations include Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality, Florida Immigrant Coalition, United We Dream: Tampa Bay, Clearwater #HeretoStay, Hillsborough Community Protection Coalition, CAIR Florida and others. 

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