Grassroots Leadership In The News

Mar 26, 2018
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¡Ahora Sí!

Salvadoran asylum-seeker says abuses still go on at detention center

"'I know that at this time, the women in the detention center are looking at me,' Laura Monterrosa said Monday in Spanish at a news conference, surrounded by local organizers who have been campaigning for her release since last year. 'Don’t let anyone violate your human rights. … It doesn’t matter if you are not of this country or if you are an immigrant, your rights will always be your rights, and they must be respected.'

Claudia Muñoz, the immigration programs director for Grassroots Leadership, which has been supporting Monterrosa, said she hopes other immigrants can look up to her as an example that they, too, can come forward with their own stories of abuse.

'We are hoping that they see Laura’s leadership and her courage and how brave she is, and they know that it is possible to speak out about your own case and be able to get your freedom,' Muñoz said." [node:read-more:link]

Mar 26, 2018
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KVUE

Salvadoran asylum-seeker released from T. Don Hutto after sexual assault allegations

'"If it wasn't for Grassroots Leadership, all their support, all the organizations that were supporting me in the community that would have been impossible,' Monterrosa said. 'I'm living a different life. I'm receiving a dignified treatment. I'm receiving all the support that I need.'

Now that she's been released from the detention center, Monterrosa believes there's still a lot of work to be done.

'My goal is to fight for all women and not only women, but also for men that are in the detention centers,' Monterrosa said. 'My goal is for all the detention centers to be closed because it's not a dignified place to be."' [node:read-more:link]

Mar 26, 2018
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We are Mitú

Salvadoran Woman Who Risked Deportation After Revealing Sexual Abuse In Detention Center Is Free

"Monterrosa pleaded for a united front on behalf of the women at T. Don Hutto.  According to Grassroots Leadership, less than 1 percentof sexual allegations made within immigrant detention centers are investigated.

'I know that by all of us working together we can achieve triumph,' Monterrosa said. 'I know the women there are watching me. I want to tell them to keep on fighting and moving forward and not allow anybody to violate their human rights. Everyone, regardless of where they came from, deserves to have their rights respected.”' [node:read-more:link]

Mar 23, 2018
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Austin Chronicle

Laura Monterrosa Released From T. Don Hutto

"Advocates rallied outside the courthouse last week, calling attention to systemic abuses at Hutto and detention centers statewide. 'ICE is trying to make an example out of Laura to discourage other victims of sexual abuse from coming out,' said Grassroots' Claudia Muñoz. 'Laura's is not an isolated case. We know that many of the 500 women at Hutto are going through the same abuses but not receiving the same attention. Laura's story is just the tip of the iceberg.'" [node:read-more:link]

Mar 23, 2018
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KUT

Some See Danger In Rush To Appoint Manley Permanent Austin Police Chief

'“It makes no sense to make an appointment as serious as this in the immediate aftermath of something so complex and fast-moving,' said Chris Harris with the criminal justice reform group Grassroots Leadership.

He said the quick appointment of Manley to permanent chief would rob Austinites of the chance to participate in the process by which they normally make important city hires.

'If we don’t take the opportunity to get whomever will be the next chief to be on record as supporting policies that reflect the values of the community,' Harris said, 'then we’ve lost an extremely valuable opportunity to ensure we improve our police force.'" [node:read-more:link]

Mar 23, 2018
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New York Times

In Austin, a Bomber’s Rampage Exposes Racial Fault Lines Long Buried

"Alejandro Caceres, 30, an organizer for Grassroots Leadership, a prison reform and immigrant rights group, who lives and works in East Austin, said he believed the police were dismissing the concerns of black and Hispanic residents that the bombings were, at least in part, racially motivated.

'We’re being told that all of our feelings and our realities are not true, that this person was not targeting black and brown people, that this person was not a terrorist,' Mr. Caceres said." [node:read-more:link]

Mar 22, 2018
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Texas Observer

Asylum-Seeker’s Release Shows Activists Can Win Under Trump’s ICE

"'This case under Obama would’ve taken like a month,' said Claudia Muñoz, immigration projects director with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit that fights private prisons and led the activism around Monterrosa’s case. Under Obama, she said, it was 'common practice' for ICE to release detained immigrants with health problems or in response to scandal — a practice that’s much less common now.

Muñoz, an undocumented activist who once made national headlines for infiltrating a Michigan immigrant detention center, said that ever since Trump’s election, it’s been an open question whether Trump’s ICE can be successfully pressured. 'A lot of people have stopped organizing because they don’t think it’s possible now,' she said. 'But you have to be willing to try; it might not work, but people are being deported either way.'

On Friday, ICE granted Monterrosa what’s called 'deferred action,' essentially a year-long promise not to deport her while she tries to sort out her immigration case. Such temporary reprieves, which are renewable but can be revoked by ICE at any time, are a common goal for activists and attorneys, but they’ve been much harder to come by under Trump. In a statement, San Antonio ICE spokesperson Nina Pruneda said Monterrosa is required to check in weekly with the agency." [node:read-more:link]

Mar 22, 2018
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El Mundo

Libre Para Seguir Peleando

“Monterrosa se encuentra adaptándose a su nuevo entorno y estará recibiendo terapia y todos los recursos necesarios para recuperarse del trauma que ha experimentado”, dice Bethany Carson, organizadora de temas migratorios de Grassroots Leadership. [node:read-more:link]

Mar 20, 2018
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Al Dia News

Laura Monterrosa released

"Laura Monterrosa, a 23-year-old Salvadoran immigrant, was arrested in May 2017 after trying to enter the country without documents, fleeing the daily aggression against LGBTQ people that happens in her country. After 10 months in prison, and under threat of deportation, she decided to speak and make public her sexual harassment situation inside the facilities of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas.

According to Univisión(link is external), Monterrosa wrote a letter of complaint detailing her situation and asking the Williamson County Sheriff's Office to 'take the reins of the investigation.'

The pro-immigrant activist group Grassroots Leadership made the letter public, and assumed the legal defense and the struggle for the liberation of the young Salvadoran woman." [node:read-more:link]

Mar 19, 2018
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Rewire News

‘A Huge Victory’: Woman Who Alleged Assault by Guard Finally Released From Detention

"Laura Monterrosa was released from detention Friday evening after a months-long campaign by the advocacy organization Grassroots Leadership, culminating with a letter to the Department of Homeland Security signed by more than 45 Congressional representatives calling for an investigation into sexual abuse allegations at Texas detention centers. The members of Congress demanded an expedited audit to assess Hutto’s compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act. 

Getting released from detention has been a long road for Monterrosa, who Grassroots Leadership says is 'adjusting to her new environment and recovering from the trauma she has experienced.'" [node:read-more:link]

Mar 19, 2018
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Democracy Now!

Salvadoran Asylum Seeker Who Says She Was Sexually Assaulted in Detention Is Freed

"In Texas, a 23-year-old Salvadoran asylum seeker named Laura Monterrosa has been freed from the T. Don Hutto detention facility, after a national campaign to win her freedom. Monterrosa says she was sexually assaulted by a guard while in detention and was then placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for speaking up. She fled El Salvador to escape sexual persecution as a lesbian and was detained for nine months."

  [node:read-more:link]

Mar 17, 2018
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KVUE

Woman alleging sexual assault against ICE guard now released

"Laura Monterrosa, an undocumented immigrant woman detained at T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, who reported she was sexually assaulted by a guard, was released Saturday, according to Grassroots Leadership.

'Despite facing retaliation inside, including solitary confinement, Laura showed incredible courage in speaking out to tell her story,' said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership. 'This is a huge victory for Laura, for all the women who have organized and spoken out, and for the community that came to their support.”' [node:read-more:link]

Mar 17, 2018
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Washington Post

Salvadoran woman who alleged abuse leaves immigration center in Texas

"A woman from El Salvador who said a guard groped her at an immigration detention facility has been released, advocates said Saturday.

Laura Monterrosa-Flores was released late Friday from the T. Don Hutto Residential Center outside Austin, where she had been held for months, Grassroots Leadership organizer Bethany Carson said. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which had sued on Monterrosa-Flores’s behalf, said Saturday that the Department of Homeland Security agreed to release her under deferred action, which provides individuals temporary relief from deportation." [node:read-more:link]

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