Immigrant Community Protests ICE Policies

José Castillo (left) and community members march in downtown Asheville against ICE policies. Photo: COLA
José Castillo (left) and community members march in downtown Asheville against ICE policies. Photo: COLA

Charlotte, NC – Joined by supporters from around the state, José Antolín Castillo was scheduled to hold a press conference  March 13 in front of the Charlotte Immigration Court immediately prior to his final deportation hearing.

Castillo is one of 12 workers detained in a November 2011 immigration raid at Shogun Buffet and Hibachi Grill in Asheville. In addition to telling his own story, Castillo planned to call on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to close his case and stop persecuting workers.

“I came to the United States because in my country I lived in poverty,” said Castillo, who was born in El Salvador, but has lived in the U.S. for several years. “I need to stay here so I can work to take care of my family.”

According to repeated statements made over the past two years by ICE Director John Morton, among others, undocumented workers like Castillo, with deep ties to their communities and no criminal record, are not a priority for deportation under current administration policy. However, ICE has chosen not to exercise its discretion to close Castillo’s case.

“While employed at Shogun Buffet, José Antolín Castillo and many others suffered mistreatment and wage theft. These hard-working men and women deserve to be protected from exploitation,” said Bacilio Castro of the Western North Carolina Workers Center. “Instead, ICE has chosen yet again to target vulnerable workers to meet their unjust deportation quotas.”

“ICE must stop harassing people who have done nothing wrong, who are only trying to work to take care of their families,” added Ada Volkmer of the Coalición de Organizaciones Latinoamericanas (COLA). “If President Obama really cares about our community, he needs to stop these deportations so that people can live and work without fear.”

Defensa Comunitaria, an Asheville-based grassroots community group “organizing resistance to police & ICE checkpoints, detention, and the oppression of our communities,” contributed to this report.