Labor and immigration activists in Providence are continuing to rally in support of Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nuñez, two workers detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in California on May 3. About 20 people gathered for the weekly solidarity rally outside the Federal Center on Westminster Street on Thursday afternoon.
Mike Araujo, the executive director of Rhode Island Jobs with Justice, said that this is a national issue that impacts workers from coast to coast.
“People have been dehumanizing immigrants, but it’s really important that we view all of our people as not just the jobs they do, not just their families, but as members of a larger community,” Araujo said. “It’s a moral question. If you separate someone from their children, what does that say about you as a society?”
Mejia is a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and Nuñez is a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC). Local union members have been organizing the Providence rallies in conjunction with RI Jobs with Justice.
According to Araujo, ICE operations have not been as active in Rhode Island as in California and other parts of the New England region, such as northern New Hampshire. However, Abulkhalek Darwich, a Syrian man from Pawtucket, was detained outside a Rhode Island courthouse in June for overstaying his guest visa by 19 years.
Araujo says that he hopes to broaden the scope of the rallies by inviting more public officials. According to him, state Rep. Moira Walsh came to the rally last week. The rallies are happening every Thursday at 3:30 pm.