To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives
Release to The Prisoners
To Bind up the Broken-Hearted
& Provide for Those who Mourn
So begins the first sermon by Christ quoting the proclamation by Isaiah, so begins this letter demanding freedom for Claudio Rojas. Claudio Rojas is a beloved grandfather, father, husband, worker & faithful servant. His sole reason for captivity is overstaying a visa 19 years ago with the hopes of gaining a Pastoral Visa.
During my 23 days detained with Claudio in the summer of 2012 I never witnessed a more severe conviction of faith rooted in justice. Though I had turned myself in hopes of exposing abuses at Broward Transitional Center (BTC) it was Claudio who shepherded me & showed me the way.
First thing during my first morning of detention he called my mother to assure her that I would be okay, that he would watch over me. By that night I had in my possession 25 names with alien numbers and phone contacts of men Claudio had already convinced to join our campaign demanding release on grounds of prosecutorial discretion. By the end of our first week together Claudio had come up with an idea to distribute our hotline number to all 600 male detainees – ROOTED IN FAITH THAT OUR CAMPAIGN WOULD WORK. We were detained without access to internet, minimal phone time, & with only bi-weekly visitation privileges and yet Claudio had done the work of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance alone. He taught me & still does.
Claudio found & prioritized Cesar Fajardo who was peeing blood, Angel Raymundo who had an untreated hernia & Junior Harriet who had a bullet in his spine.
Claudio found Germino Turra who had an approved U Visa after a gunman entered his home. His child had become suicidal during his 10 month imprisonment.
Claudio found DREAMER youth such as Pablicio Machado & Cipriano Toledo.
Claudio found Luis Villanueva who had received death threats in Mexico. He found Samuel Resendiz who has two US Citizen daughters, Samuel Soto who has four US Citizen children & Agnaldo Andrade who has a US Citizen wife.
For two weeks we worked nonstop from seven in the morning until eleven at night. Then on the third week Claudio had had enough. All the men knew the details of the campaign and the first sympathetic cases had gained release. WE HAD TO ESCALATE. He began a fast alone unable to convince anyone to join & mount a concurrent work strike to stop the center from working. I begrudgingly joined him until news of our infiltration was leaked to the press. Viridiana & I were quickly isolated & the men wanted to riot demanding our safety. Claudio negotiated the peace, he had the moral authority over the riot guards to do so. That weekend all 600 men were on hunger strike, all 600 men were on work strike. Immigration pushed back.
Claudio was isolated: medically sequestered as he began to lose weight and closely monitored. He was transferred to Krome Detention Center where he met Henry Arias who was sexually abused at BTC. Henry contacted our hotline & gained release. After 30 days of fasting and a Congressional Letter with 26 signatures asking for a full review of BTC was published Claudio was released on August 31, 2012.
He was detained again during a routine check in on February 27, 2019. He has a pending T-Visa with USCIS and an open investigation with the department of Labor due to abuse from an unscrupulous employer.
We, the undersigned, join the spirit of Sovereign Love & DEMAND:
Liberty to Claudio
Release for Claudio
Peace to the Broken-Hearted
& Comfort to his Family