One in a Million: Francisco Rodriguez, an All Too Familiar ICE Story, and How You Can Help

“One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.”

This disturbing quote from Stalin sadly applies to the immigration crisis today. Given the overwhelming number of families that are being ripped apart every single day, it’s easy to lose sight of the individuals affected and instead see them as faceless statistics.

But if we want to help the victims of ICE all across America, it’s vital that none of these people become a statistic, but are seen as the human beings they truly are.

One of them is Francisco Rodriguez.

Francisco is a father of two, with a baby on the way. He is a janitor at MIT and union member. He is a son supporting his mother. He is a loving husband, a churchgoer, a member of a board at his children’s school. He is the owner of a carpet-cleaning business he runs while maintaining his full-time job at MIT. He is also a human being who, yesterday, was detained like an animal in a detention center, locked away in a cell, torn from his children, his wife, his mother, and the entire community that loves and needs him.

Jobs with Justice, 32BJ SEIU, church groups, the Jewish Labor Committee, and many more have spent a long time fighting for Francisco. Petitions have garnered thousands of signatures, local, state, and federal representatives have signaled their support for him, as has the MIT faculty, and hundreds of community members who have consistently turned out for events in Burlington, the JFK Federal Building, MIT, among many other locations. There is simply no way to list all of these events, all the actions, all the people who have been with Francisco since the beginning of this heartbreaking ordeal.

Yesterday, over a hundred people gathered to join Francisco at ICE headquarters in Burlington, where he was scheduled for a routine check-in. It was starting to look like Francisco might be deported, but he, his lawyers, and everyone present was under the impression that there was still time to keep him home. He had even been told to buy a ticket to El Salvador that would leave within sixty days. He did, and followed the government’s instructions by duly reporting to ICE.

But this wasn’t a routine check-in. He was detained by ICE officers and taken to a cell. Where? No one knew at first. When it was believed a van would be taking Francisco away, everyone present linked arms and formed a barrier to block any vehicle from exiting. Unfortunately, Francisco was simply held at ICE and would be removed to a detention center at some unknown point. Even if everyone had stayed, Francisco would still have been in a cell, separated from those who love and need him.

Yesterday was deeply disappointing and infuriating for everyone involved. Yet despite this bleak turn of events, there is still a chance for Francisco. He has not been deported yet, and hundreds upon hundreds of people have already begun planning more events, making more calls, and doing everything they can to ensure the release of this man who has done nothing but make America better. And you can help, too, by checking out the info below.

But above all else, it’s vital to remember two things. First, Francisco’s story is just one of many, and appreciating the magnitude of what is happening to him is necessary if we are to appreciate the scope of the overall crisis in this country, in which there are millions of Franciscos facing the same, if not worse, difficulties. Their struggles cannot be allowed to be just statistics – that’s the responsibility those of us who can do something about this, who can fight.

Speaking of fighting, the second thing to remember is the chant that was echoed many times at yesterday’s event and so many before – “When we fight, we win!”

And we are not done fighting. Not for Francisco. Not for anyone.

HOW YOU CAN HELP!

Donate to Francisco’s fundraiser here:
https://www.gofundme.com/help-stop-franciscos-deportation

Call ICE and let them know you want Francisco Rodriguez to be immediately released from detention:
New England Field Office Director: (781) 359-7526.
New England Regional ICE office: (781) 359-7500
Community Relations officer Alexia Koplewski: (781) 359-7511

Call our Senators and Representative and ask for their support for Francisco’s Rodriguez’s immediate release from detention & approval for his Stay of Removal request and to weigh in personally with DHS:
Senator Markey: (617) 565-8519
Senator Warren: (617) 565-3170
Congressman Capuano: (617) 621-6208

Call Governor Charlie Baker and ask for his support for Francisco Rodriguez and to call on ICE to stop Francisco’s deportation: (617) 725-4005

Script:
“Hi, my name is __ and I live in__. I’m calling to ask you to help stop Francisco’s deportation and ask for his immediate release from detention. His A-Number: 099-665-463. Today Francisco Rodriguez was detained at his ICE Checkin even after complying with ICE’s requests for today’s check-in, and now faces imminent deportation to El Salvador. We are demanding that Francisco Rodriguez not be deported so that he can present new facts about his asylum claim.  We are also calling for Mr. Rodriguez’s immediate release from detention.

Mr. Rodriguez has lived in the U.S. since 2006. He is a father of two American citizen children and with a baby on the way. He is a member of his children’s school parent committee, of the community organization Chelsea Collaborative, of the Church Tabernaculo biblico seguidores de Jesus, and a union member of 32BJ SEIU (Service Employees International Union) at MIT. Mr. Rodriguez Guardado always pays his taxes and contributes to his community, church, children’s school and at work. He is a beloved member of Chelsea. His mother who is currently a permanent resident will become a citizen next year and shortly after she will petition for her son’s pathway to residency and eventual citizenship.”