Pioneer Valley activist Eduardo Samaniego deported to Mexico

  • Local immigrant activist Eduardo Samaniego addresses about two hundred people gathered under an alcove on Hampton Avenue in Northampton, Sept. 5, 2017, to hear the stories of those affected by the termination of DACA announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier in the day. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Eduardo Samaniego speaks during a protest against white nationalism outside City Hall in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/1/2019 4:27:00 PM

AMHERST — Local activist and undocumented immigrant Eduardo Samaniego was deported Friday to Mexico.

That’s according to members of the Eduardo Samaniego Support Network who flew to South Carolina, where Samaniego was detained. In October, Samaniego was arrested in Georgia after forgetting his wallet and failing to pay $27.75 in cab fare and was eventually transferred to Columbia Regional Care Center, an immigrant detention center that doubles as a mental health hospital. Samaniego recently accepted so-called “voluntary departure” after more than 100 days in detention.

“This has just emboldened us to keep fighting harder,” said Rose Bookbinder, an organizer with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Northampton. “We are going to pursue all legal options in terms of appeals and exposing the horrendous due process violations that have occurred and the torture he endured in the facilities.”

Samaniego’s supporters have said that his physical and mental health had deteriorated during his imprisonment, including three weeks in solitary confinement.

In a previous interview, Samaniego’s attorney Charles Kuck said Samaniego’s family and supporters were working to get him into a treatment facility when he arrives in Mexico. U.S. Rep. Henry Johnson, of Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, wrote a letter last week to the director of Atlanta’s ICE field office, expressing concern over Samaniego’s physical and mental health.

Bookbinder said Samaniego was put on a plane Friday to Guadalajara, Mexico. His supporters had to purchase clothes for Samaniego and a last-minute ticket for his mother and another organizer with the Workers Center — otherwise, Bookbinder said, Samaniego would have been dropped off unprepared and alone in an unknown city eight hours from his hometown.

Samaniego’s supporters were denied the opportunity to visit him on his last day in the country, despite their repeated efforts and several phone calls to the South Carolina detention facility from U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester. The group was ultimately able to see Samaniego shortly before he boarded his plane.

Caroline Murray, one of those who attempted to visit Samaniego, said she is still thinking about the “ordinary people” who buttress the country’s system of deportation.

“To see guards bring Eduardo into the airport, and to see everyday people prevent us from seeing our friend … We’re responsible, and we prop this system up, and we have to figure out how to stop doing that,” Murray said.

“It’s sad,” said Hodaliz Borrayes, another organizer at the Workers Center. Borrayes added that the experience has inspired her to continue fighting for her community and against deportations. “This is discrimination.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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