For Immediate Release
March 14, 2016
Federal Prosecutor Billy Williams Must Stop Prosecuting Portland Immigrant Leader Francisco Aguirre for Fleeing Central American Violence that Just Killed His Son
On February 2, 2016, Francisco Aguirre's 19-year-old son Moises was viciously murdered in El Salvador. Moises had previously sought asylum in the United States and lived with his father, but returned to El Salvador due to trauma from his experience being incarcerated in a child refugee "shelter" and fears over ending up detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Six months after his return, he was shot sixteen times by two men while playing soccer with friends. Instead of being able to grieve in peace, Francisco is facing federal prison for fleeing fifteen years ago the same violence that just killed his child.
Francisco Aguirre and his family publically sought sanctuary at Augustana Lutheran Church in September 2014 after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attempted a warrantless raid on their home. While the deportation proceedings eventually were dropped due to public pressure, the U.S. Attorney (federal prosecutor) charged him with allegedly reentering the U.S. 15 years before after a previous deportation. Francisco has been a highly involved member of the local and national movements for day laborer & immigrant rights for many years. His trial is scheduled to begin April 19th, 2016.
While the #UnidosConFrancisco Campaign has been ongoing since he and his family first sought sanctuary, it has been rapidly escalating since Moises's death and the clear injustice of Francisco's continued prosecution by the federal government. The demands of the campaign are:
(1) For the Department of Justice to drop the reentry charge against Francisco.
(2) For the Department of Homeland Security and White House to grant Temporary Protected Status to Central American refugees like Moises so that they are not deported to their deaths.
(3) For the Department of Justice to no longer prosecute Central Americans for entry and reentry for fleeing violence and potential murder.
The campaign has launched a new petition that has received 2,891 signatures in the past month, a Facebook page with over 1,000 followers, and a website. Additionally, Francisco Aguirre has received support from high-profile figures such as the Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Homeboy Industries Founder & Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle, and Tony Award-winning Grey's Anatomy actress and immigrant rights advocate Sara Ramirez.
Different cities across the country will be holding events in solidarity with the Aguirre family and the #UnidosConFrancisco Campaign.
On the morning of March 16, a press conference will be held in Portland outside of the U.S. Attorney's office. Speakers will include Francisco's wife Dora. Additionally, on the evening of March 17, 2016, a Via Crucis/Stations of the Cross procession will take place in Washington, DC.
National Day Laborer Organizing Network Deportation Defense Coordinator & Staff Attorney Olga Tomchin states, "The tragedy of Moises' death shows clearly the cruelty behind the Obama Administration's efforts to deter Central American refugees from seeking asylum through incarceration. The direct consequence of such deterrence is preventable murder and death. Now, the Department of Justice seeks to imprison Francisco for fleeing for his life, despite the fact that his son was just murdered. The only moral option is for the U.S. Attorney to immediately drop the charge and let Francisco grieve his teenage son and explain the murder of their brother to his two young surviving daughters without also fearing being ripped apart from them."