Ithaca community members gathered at a rally in the Commons on Thursday to stand in solidarity with migrant workers facing deportation.

Photo Courtesy of Sophia May '20

Ithaca community members gathered at a rally in the Commons on Thursday to stand in solidarity with migrant workers facing deportation.

March 30, 2017

Ithacans, Cornellians Slam ICE After Local Farm Worker is Detained

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José Coyote Perez is a local dairy farm worker and community activist. He has a work permit, a social security card and four children, all U.S. citizens.

But following “an incident where he was the victim of workplace violence” nearly a month ago, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency detained Perez, despite having closed his ICE case this past September, according to Sophia May ’20, a leading organizer of a rally dedicated to bringing attention to Perez’s detainment.

On a cold and cloudy Thursday afternoon, Ithaca community members from all walks of life assembled on the Ithaca Commons to stand in solidarity with Perez and other migrant workers facing threats like detention and deportation.

“I’m an international student; I believe that it’s morally wrong that the government is uprooting the lives of people, especially people who are contributing to the community just like José Perez is … as well as other people at risk of deportations,” said Hassan Saleem ’20.

The rally featured a number of speakers and performances, including a poem from an Ithaca College student and a drum and song performance from a professor at SUNY Cortland.

Some protesters asserted that President Trump's stances on immigration have encouraged ICE to become more assertive in their detention efforts.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Some protesters asserted that President Trump’s stances on immigration have encouraged ICE to become more assertive in its detention efforts.

Speaking about the difficulties migrant farm workers face, Jaqueline Travis, a board member at the Central New York Workers Center, said that she is “sick and tired of what is going on with our brothers and sisters.”

“We want to say ‘we are so proud, yeah! Upstate New York, we have the best dairy!’ At what price, people! Thank god that your milk is not red from the blood that these farm workers have to go through every day,” she said.

Other protesters spoke to the uncertain conditions that many detainees face as a result of ICE.

Chelsea Winene explained how her husband came to the United States seeking asylum from the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been detained at various ICE facilities in Florida since December 2015.

“[My husband] has been beaten by guards arbitrarily two times for saying, ‘I know my rights, don’t treat me like an animal,’” Winene told the group of protesters.

Many speakers expressed fear and frustration at the Trump administration for its perceived role in emboldening ICE agents to take increasingly invasive action against immigrants.

“CBP and ICE seem to be operating under the impression that there are no lines for them to cross; that this is the wild west and they are free to trick and punish and treat their fellow humans with cruelty. But there are lines and they have crossed them” said Jennifer Breen J.D. ’15, a local immigration attorney.

Tempers flared at the protest when a man attempted to disrupt the proceedings, shouting “communist animals!” and muttering other pointed remarks from his truck idling at a red light. At first a few protesters responded in anger before saying to him “We forgive you”.

“I was born and grew up in Germany and I had to come to terms with the Holocaust, so for me being a bystander is not acceptable,” said Ute Ritz-Deutch, a protester. “If I’m a bystander I allow these things to happen, and I cannot tolerate that in the name of the people, my government does things that amount to human rights violations, and that’s why I’m in the fight and that’s why I will continue to be in the fight.”

Perez’s first formal court hearing following his detainment was supposed to be on Thursday, but the hearing was delayed when the judge assigned to the case recused himself after realizing that he previously had been in contact with Perez in a legal capacity.

  • Reality Check

    There are significant reporting gaps in this story. How long was Perez detained, and does he remain in custody? What’s a “work permit” and what was the issuing authority? Is there any verification that his “social security card” ties to a valid account? Does he live with any/all of his children? Who’s responsible for characterizing the situation leading to Perez’ detainment as “an incident where he was the victim of workplace violence.” This story gets uncomfortably close to The Sun providing a megaphone to an advocacy group.

    • MJB

      Reporting gaps…you mean, a professional and common sense unwillingness to assume that a brown person from a Spanish-speaking country somewhere south of here must be forging documentation. What is a “work permit”? Are you kidding? And are you really putting “social security card” in quotes? Reality Check, learn about how a migrant worker obtains a social security number.

      I hope you enjoy eating nothing, because attitudes like yours are keeping the hard-working people who pick and process our food away from their jobs.

      • Basket of Soft Warm Cuddles For You

        He don’t need no stinkin’ social security card!

      • He is a FELON

    • Confirming facts

      Perez has been detained for a little over four weeks. He does remain in custody. His social security card is valid- we know this because he underwent a court case last year about his immigration status, which was administratively closed. He was attacked on the job by a coworker, and called the police because he had already undergone a court case and felt secure in his status as a legal resident of the U.S.

  • Tom

    If Perez is not in this country legally, he should be deported.

  • Mo’ the AEM Guys

    The guy selling his tracks has become an Ithaca Commons landmark…

  • borris batanov

    Reality check: Trump administration is not deporting all illegal aliens, but only those who are known criminals, contrary to the lies by activists quoted in the above article.

    Solutions to illegal immigration:

    1) Prosecute American employers to the full extent of the law, who are exploiting illegal immigrants for cheap labor, such as agribusiness, hotels/resorts/restaurants, and constructions trades. American businesses have bought politicians, both Dems & GOP, like so many whores, who now refuse to enforce immigration laws.

    2) Build the wall.

    3) Establish work permit program to allow foreign workers into the US for limited time to do specific jobs. Those who benefit from foreign workers, American employers and foreign governments, to pay for program.

    Foreign workers to be treated like human beings, with decent wages and full benefit of occupational health and safety.

    Foreign workers to pay taxes, like everyone else, and not enjoy any of the privileges of citizenship, i.e., not to vote, have drivers licenses, and not to have free education or health care. Mexico to provide safe transportation for foreign workers thru its country.

    4) Gainfully employed, tax paying, noncriminal, illegal aliens already in the country to be offered path to naturalization like any other foreigners, based on merits. In other words, only those who offer the US skills and education to be naturalized, a process which takes years. The rest must move back to their country of origin and apply for work permits like all foreigners.

    Of course, none of this will happen, due to the simple fact that we do not have a representational democracy which acts in the best interests of Americans. God forbid reason and pragmatism, rather than ideology and politics, should determine governmental policies.

    • Jason

      Liberals do demagoguery..

      Demagoguery is an appeal to people that plays on their emotions and prejudices rather than on their rational side. Demagoguery is a manipulative approach — often associated with dictators and sleazy politicians — that appeals to the worst nature of people.

      “he has 4 children, he works hard…”

      “I had to come to terms with the holocaust”

      We have laws in our civilized country. Sorry.

      • Basket of Cuddly Puppies For You

        yeah that was pretty specious logic from uter:

        so because muh holocaust, you have to take everyone who wants entry into your country ???

      • and HE broke the LAW, so OUT you go

  • Basket of Cuddles For You

    ““I was born and grew up in Germany and I had to come to terms with the Holocaust, so for me being a bystander is not acceptable,” said Ute Ritz-Deutch, a protester”

    So … umm … because some German went crazy and killed Jews 75 years ago, Americans are supposed to allow anyone in this country?

    I don’t think that exactly follows Uter.

    There are some major gaps in that line of reasoning … probably why Cornell grads think at the level of a 5 year old.

  • Basket of Cuddles For You

    “muttering other pointed remarks” from the confines of his pickup truck huh?

    Is that sort of like how Leftists mutter inane ramblings like “No person is illegal” and “No hate no kkk” and “Grab this” in between eating soy-based snacks and taking hits from their portable hookahs???

    Seems to me Leftists are the furthest detached from reality.

  • Basket of Cuddles For You

    and of course they gather outside the Starbucks. This comedy writes itself LOLZ

  • Basket of Cuddly Puppies For You

    Wild Coyote is not a fellow human being. He is NOT my brother.

    Jennifer Breen sounds like she’s regurgitating that LBJ address from 50+ years ago: “I speak tonight for the dignity of man” LOLZ

    How about the dignity of my people not to have to deal with foreigners in our own country???

  • Respondent

    Please stop posting these hate-filled comments, whoever you are. I hope that you find a way to express yourself in a kinder way and I hope you find a way to comprehend more fully the struggles of others.

    • Cute Little Snuggly Piget

      You mean like with a pink pussy hat?

      Tell you what kitten, when I see the “numinous other” expressing concern for my struggles, I’ll entertain empathizing with theirs

    • Cute Little Snuggly Piglet

      You mean like with a pink pussy hat?

      Tell you what kitten, when I see the “numinous other” expressing concern for my struggles, I’ll entertain empathizing with theirs

    • Little Moe Szyslak

      I may be ugly and I may be hate-filled but … what was the third thing you said?

  • borris batanov

    It says above: “19 thoughts on “Ithacans, Cornellians Slam ICE After Local Farm Worker is Detained”

    No, there’s only 12 comments, 12 “thoughts.” Seven comments have been snipped by the snidely Sun censor.

  • DJT

    Well good news for you liberals, we-don’t-care-about-your-feelings. Deportations for 8 sweet years. Out, out, out!

    • Still has a conscience

      4 years jackass.