Jackson, Mississippi – On Monday morning, civil rights and city leaders held a “Unity Press Conference” at the historic Masonic Lodge in Jackson to send a message directly to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to immediately release Ms. Lladi Ambrocio, a victim of ICE’s infamous 2019 raids, and to address the harms caused by ICE’s targeting of workers.
“Despite being the victim of RETALIATORY raids, Lladi has been punished, charged and convicted for trying to reunite with her family, and has been jailed now for nine months,” said Lorena Quiroz, Executive Director for the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity (IAJE of MS), which has accompanied Lladi, and along with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) has called on President Biden, and his Secretaries of Labor and DHS to grant deferred action for workers and families impacted by ICE’s raids.
City of Jackson and civil rights leaders joined IAJE of Mississippi on Monday morning to show their support for Lladi Ambrocio and to call on DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to address the ongoing harm.
“It was not so long that many of us gathered in this very building in response to what was a painful, traumatic, historic, infamous abuse of power, and here we are three years later seeking justice for these people, justice for Lladi,” remarked Cliff Johnson, civil rights attorney and Director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law.
“Here’s what we know, the Department of Labor can do something about it. Secretary Mayorkas can do something about it,” Johnson continued as he held up Sec. Mayorkas’ October 12 Memorandum on Workplace Enforcement. “We appreciate your directive to end these massive workplace raids, but the truth of the matter is this – these words are not enough, they demand action. Rep. Thompson, we appreciate your letter but more must be done,” added Johnson.
On April 14, Congressman Bennie Thompson wrote to ICE Director Tae Johnson to flag Lladi’s case. Rep. Thompson chairs the US House Committee responsible for oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.
“Whether you were born in Morton or south Mexico, in Canton or San Cristobal, an injustice to anyone in our community is an unjustice to all. That is why the NAACP calls on Secretary Mayorkas, to take action to free Lladi, and to repair all the harms committed by ICE in Mississippi.” said Charles Taylor, Interim Executive Director of the Mississippi NAACP.
“Let’s get it done,” added Taylor.
“It’s time that we show the due respect to immigrant working families – and demand recognition of their legal personhood – work authorization – for those workers that have labored during the pandemic, those that are denouncing abuse, and those that have been victims of retaliation, like Lladi and so many others,” remarked Brooke Floyd, Coordinator for the People’s Advocacy Institute (PAI) added.
Louis Wright, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Jackson, Mississippi spoke at the Unity Press Conference on behalf of Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumbwa.
“The city of Jackson stands with all individuals working to make their lives and their families’ lives better,” said “Note the fear that many families felt – and are feeling – following the largest immigration raid in this state’s history… the best path forward is one that is fundamentally humane, and inclusive,” said Mr. Wright.
Civil rights leaders spoke about the impact that ICE’s raids have had on the enforcement of workplace rights.
“Lladi was deported as a result of those retaliatory ICE raids. Can you imagine what message these raids – and the ongoing impact on families has on workers’ willingness to report abuses at the workplace? Cases of sexual harassment and assault, wagetheft, unsafe work. The list goes on and on,” added Vidhi Bamzai, Staff Attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Thousands of individuals nationwide have signed a petition to DHS Secretary Mayorkas, as the chorus of groups in Mississippi calling for Lladi’s release grows.
“Today’s press conference is also a celebration of the multi cultural, multi racial communities that we are building together. And when those communities are attacked – as ICE did when it arrested nearly 700 of our brothers and sisters – when our communities are attacked like that, we do not forget so easily, and we will not let our local and national leaders forget” said Savannah Willis of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures.
“Today in May of 2022, the consequences are still ongoing. The fact is that today there has not been accountability for ICE’s operations in August 2019. While families were devastated by the raids, little has been done to address the rampant workplace abuse at these factories, the unsafe conditions,” spoke Joshua Tom, Legal Director for the ACLU of Mississippi.
“That is why LLadi’s case is so urgent, and so emblematic. There must be action to undo these harms. And we add our voice to those calling for DHS action – both to free Lladi now, and to grant deferred action to the families impacted by this injustice,” added Tom of the ACLU.
“We in the faith community stand united with IAJE and the City of Jackson to demand that DHS Secretary Mayorkas take action to repair the harms caused by the raids, starting by immediately freeing Lladi,” shared Pastor Hugh Hollowell of Open Door Mennonite Church.
“As Mississippians, where we ironically call ourselves the hospitality state, we need to turn the tide on the crisis of workplace mistreatment that Black and immigrant workers have confronted in these chicken processing plants for decades. No worker should be exploited, harassed or abused, no worker should be injured on the job… and when they do speak out, workers should be protected, not threatened with arrest or deportation,” added Hollowell.
To date, Lladi has been in federal custody for nine months.