AUSTIN — Saturday more than 80 community members from Austin, San Antonio, Laredo, and the Rio Grande Valley caravanned to the Laredo Processing Center for a rally to call for the freedom of detained mom, Melvin Griselda Cruz-Lopez. They called on ICE to release her immediately and protested endemic abuse at the for-profit immigration prison operated by CoreCivic, where immigrants are sent in retaliation for speaking up for their rights.
“When ICE transferred Griselda to Laredo in retaliation for speaking out, they sent her here thinking she was going to be isolated. This is a pattern we’ve seen happen again and again over years of organizing with women detained at T. Don Hutto. This detention center is so horrible that they use it as a punishment facility and that is unacceptable. We’re here to say her community hasn’t forgotten her, and we’re going to keep coming back stronger until she is released,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership.
Formerly detained community members spoke of their own experiences in detention that fuel their commitment to continue to organize with Griselda for her freedom.
“I am a survivor of these detention centers and I’m supporting Griselda’s campaign because we share the same experience. I was also detained for more than a year separated from my 4-year-old U.S. citizen daughter. That’s why I identify with Griselda and am fighting for her to be released so that she can be reunited with her young daughter Samantha,” said Jeymi Moncada, a member of Grassroots Leadership who organizes with a group of formerly detained women in Austin who are fighting with Griselda for her freedom.
The Laredo Immigrant Alliance called for immediate intervention from their elected representatives to free Griselda and end the abuse.
“We will not stay quiet anymore,” said Ana Salinas of the Laredo Immigrant Alliance. “Griselda misses her daughter and needs medical attention for her head injury. There is no reason this mom should be detained when ICE can release her at any moment. We are calling on Rep. Cuellar to do everything in his power to free Griselda immediately and stop the retaliation against our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
Griselda is a detained mother, survivor, and asylum-seeker who is fighting for her freedom so that she can protect her 6-year-old daughter Samantha, who is being physically and potentially sexually abused by her father in Chicago. She has now been detained for more than a year. During that time, she has had sparse contact with her daughter, with whom her ex-partner has attempted to cut all contact. Late last year, Griselda was transferred from the T. Don Hutto detention center to Laredo in the middle of the night as punishment for speaking out to press, community, and elected officials about her need for freedom, as well as the retaliation and abuse she is experiencing while detained.
Community members closed the rally by chanting Griselda’s name, and promised they would be back, stronger, to continue fighting for Griselda’s release and an end to the abuse.
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.
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