Article: How Dede Adnahom Didn’t Get Deported

•January 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Thanks for the great article mentioning Who You Callin’ Illegal!


How Dede Adnahom Didn’t Get Deported

Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:00By Victoria LawTruthout | Report

Last year, Giday Adnahom was fighting deportation. As reported earlier in Truthout, Adnahom, or Dede to those who know her, came to the United States as a child with her adult sister in 1993. Under the 1980 Refugee Act, the family was granted permanent residency. Three years later, Dede was removed form her sister’s home because of abuse and placed in foster care. The agency severed all ties between Dede and her sister.

When she turned 18, Dede aged out of foster care. Unable to afford her own place, Dede was caught selling $20 of crack cocaine the following year. She took her case to trial and, in 2005, was found guilty of controlled substance delivery. She was sentenced to nine months in a work-release center, served six months, then began rebuilding her life.

dedeIn 2006, shortly after Dede gave birth to her first daughter, the U.S. Board of Immigration and Appeals began deportation proceedings against her. Although an immigration judge ruled in her favor the following year, the board appealed, and deportation proceedings reopened in 2012. Recently, after a grass-roots mobilization effort by her friends and supporters, an immigration judge ruled in Dede’s favor, granting her permanent residency.

Dede’s case is typical – many of those threatened with deportation possess criminal convictions – and atypical – she ultimately was given residency. Among the 368,644 people deported in 2013, 59 percent (or 216,810) had a past criminal conviction. Of those with convictions, nearly 31,000 had been found guilty of Level 3 offenses – misdemeanors punishable by less than one year in prison. More than half of these Level 3 offenses consisted of having previously been removed from the country (i.e. an immigration violation or for staying in the country without authorization).

According to the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, an interfaith network working with families to resist detention and deportation, these numbers do not include those who signed away their right to an immigration hearing, those who were expeditiously removed or those who agreed to a voluntary departure.

Who You Callin’ Illegal

What set Dede’s case apart from her counterparts who have been deported? One factor that could have played a part was activism: Dede founded Who You Callin’ Illegal, a support group that used her story as a catalyst to widen discussions around immigration to include its intersections with incarceration and mass deportation.

Who You Callin’ Illegal stemmed from her friends’ desire to support her. “People were helping out continually,” Dede recalled. “When I had to go to court, they would watch my kids. They also helped with rides. They did petitions; they made T-shirts with my face on it. … ” Other friends were less sure how they could help. Dede recalled numerous times when she was told, “We’d support you, but we don’t know how. We don’t know where to begin.” Seizing on the opportunity to use her personal experience to galvanize broader understanding and action, Dede started Who You Callin’ Illegal.

“We had met each other through Decolonize/Occupy work in 2011,” Jamie Wong, one of the group’s first members, told Truthout. Wong had previously worked against deportations in Providence with PrYSM (Providence Youth Student Movement), which, in 2006, was led by Cambodian youths mobilizing against deportations. Although she had not been involved in anti-deportation work since moving to Seattle, Wong, who had emigrated from Malaysia ten years earlier, wanted to support Dede in her fight.

“We fliered the port,” she recalled. “We wanted to reach out to the Seattle Port Truckers Union, which has a lot of East African, Asian and Russian immigrants.” The group also reached out to the janitors at the University of Washington, many of whom are East African and Southeast Asian immigrants. Many times, outreach included shifting the dominant narrative of the good or deserving immigrant versus the bad immigrant. “People would ask, ‘What wrong did this person do to get deportation?’ ” Wong recalled. “We talked about the challenges that Dede went through and connected them to the challenges that their own children are going through.”

In addition, members did presentations in middle and high schools. “We did one classroom presentation in a Tacoma middle school,” Wong recalled. “The whole class was youth of color. They connected their own family experiences with Dede’s story. The kids shared things like, ‘My mom’s an immigrant and she gets treated badly at her job’ and ‘My uncle is in deportation hearings.’ The reality is that so many people have stories like Dede’s, but we don’t hear them.”

Wong states that, during the past year, Who You Callin’ Illegal has met more undocumented people fighting deportation. The group has started to work with La Colectiva, a collective of undocumented people who help fight deportation cases. In October 2013, La Colectiva helped organize a rally to stop the detention and deportation of Jose Robles, who has been facing deportation since 2010 after an argument with a neighbor drew attention to his undocumented status. Robles, a father of three, applied for a Cancellation of Removal, which immigrants become eligible for after ten years in the United States. Although Robles had been in the country for 13 years, an immigration judge denied his application.

His daughters, ages 19, 14 and 4, reached out to immigrant rights groups, including La Colectiva, to help stop their father’s deportation. They petitioned. They asked people to make phone calls, and they picketed ICE’s office in Tukwila, Washington. The public pressure paid off. ICE granted Robles a one-year stay of removal, allowing him a year to reopen his case and apply for a Cancellation of Removal.

Robles’s daughters drew on the narrative of not tearing families apart to draw public attention and sympathy to his case. While fully supporting the right of Robles – and countless other parents and caregivers – to stay, Who You Callin’ Illegal pushes to go beyond that narrative. “The rhetoric of ‘keep families together’ is important, but we need to ask more than that. Why do families continue to come here? What are the broader structures that contribute to criminalized migration?” Wong asked.

How to Move Forward

In the wake of the exciting news of Dede’s victory, Who You Callin’ Illegal is seeking to broaden its work. “One of the challenges of our group is that we don’t have community connections,” Wong reflected. “We’re not deep in our own ethnic communities. I didn’t grow up in Seattle, so I don’t have family connections here. We had to figure out how to build those.”

This lack of connections with immigrant communities is not limited to Who You Callin’ Illegal. Wong pointed out that, although Seattle’s annual May Day march goes through Chinatown, none of the participants have had Chinese-language literature for curious bystanders. “This past year, ours was the only flier in Chinese,” she recalled. “We had little old grandmas running up to us asking, ‘Why are all these people here?’ This march comes through Chinatown every year, and no one ever has anything in Chinese about why they’re there.”

“We have language barriers, but we also need to get the message out that we need more than lawyers. We need community,” Dede said. “There are times when you get tired and you want to give up. I fought as much as I could fight. But even when I was tired, annoyed, irritated, I found hope with my kids, my friends and the people around me.”

Although Dede has won her fight against deportation, she received disappointing news shortly before Christmas. Because of her felony conviction, her application for citizenship was denied. She received her permanent residency card, which allows her to remain in the country for ten years, but must wait another five years before resubmitting her citizenship application.

In the meantime, Dede is raising her three young children and working in construction. Her advice to those fighting – or working with others to fight deportation? “Do everything you can until you can’t. Try every tactic possible. Keep fighting. Don’t give up.”

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Victoria Law is a writer, photographer and mother. She is the author of “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” (PM Press 2009), the editor of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison and a co-founder of Books Through Bars – NYC. She is currently working on transforming “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind,” a zine series on how radical movements can support the families in their midst, into a book.


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Demand Juan Manuel Be Allowed to Stay!

•January 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

photoJuan Manuel is a student at Renton Tech and has lived and worked around Seattle for seven years. He is facing deportation and wants to fight it. He needs people to get his back! He came to the US to escape gang violence in Mexico and now is a key financial support for his family.

In July 2012, Juan was arrested for reckless driving. He was later transferred to the Tacoma Detention Center for 3 weeks. He is a current student at Renton Technical College, where he hopes to pursue a construction management career. He is also an active member of a local soccer league, Liga Azteca.  


1. Come support Juan Manuel in court. His next court appearance is this Thursday, January 23nd. Meet at 1:30PM at 2nd and Spring at the Federal Building in Downtown Seattle (1002 2nd Avenue). We’ll have T-shirts for you to wear. If you need directions day of you can call this phone number 206-250-8683If you cannot make it, we’ll have more upcoming actions, stay tuned! 


2. Make the call to ICE today and demand that they grant prosecutorial discretion for Juan M. Sanchez. Call Director of ICE,John Sandweg at 202-732-3000 & say “Hi, I want to leave a message for John Sandweg’s secretary.” Also call Washington Field Office Director,Natalie Asher at 206-786-6858.

3. Leave the message: “Hi, I am calling to ask that ICE grant discretion on the case of Juan Manuel (A#205-273-827). Juan has close educational ties in Seattle as a student at Renton Tech. He also has a broad community of friends here. He has lived and worked in Seattle for 7 years. According to the Morton Memo, Juan is a low priority case and his deportation should be stopped”

Article: ‘Terror in Twilight ‘ — Seattle University study focuses on confrontations between Latinos and Border Patrol officers in Forks

•December 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Article repost:

READ THE FULL full 41-page study here (Adobe Flash Player required):

FORKS — The relationship between Latinos and U.S. Border Patrol officers in Forks has improved, according to an academic study released Thursday.

But state legislation should be passed to further protect the Spanish-speaking population from unwarranted stops and questioning by agency law enforcement personnel, it said.

“Twilight in Forks: The Real-Life Legacy of U.S. Border Patrol on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State” was prepared by the immigrant-advocacy organization Forks Human Rights Group, the Ronald Peterson Student Law Clinic at the Seattle University School of Law and the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University.

Forks is best known for the fantasy trilogy the Twilight saga, the authors said in the report’s background and summary statement.

“Members of the Latino community in Forks, however, live with the very real fear, not of vampires or the supernatural, but of the United States Border Patrol.”

Students reviewed the details of 251 encounters involving 502 community members.

Documentation was provided by Forks Human Rights Group and law enforcement agencies, and was drawn from media reports, published accounts, court documents and student interviews with community members between 2008 and December 2012.

“Border Patrol’s conduct on the Peninsula has improved over the last year in response to the efforts of many different people,” according to the report.

“At the time of the release of this report, community members report that they feel safer gong about their daily lives, but the personal scars and distrust of law enforcement remains.

“The final chapter has not yet been written.

“It will be determined by the future shape of immigration reform.”

A sore point with the Latino community has been the use of Border Patrol interpreters by law enforcement, which has resulted in arrests for federal immigration violations unconnected with the original reasons for the stops.

Some North Olympic Peninsula law enforcement agencies have said they use their own interpretation services, not Border Patrol agents.

The U.S. Forest Service, which is responsible for law enforcement in Olympic National Forest, where West End Latinos often harvest salal for pay, stopped asking the Border Patrol for language assistance in June 2012.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, stopped the practice as discriminatory on the basis of a complaint by the wife of Benjamin Roldan Salinas.

She with her husband when the couple were detained May 14, 2011, by a Forest Service officer after a day of picking salal in the national forest.

The couple had a legal permit, but the officer sought interpretation assistance from the Border Patrol.

Both ran, and Roldan Salinas fell into the Sol Duc River and drowned.

In a statement at a telephone news conference Thursday on the study, lead author Eleanor Doermann said the report is “centered around stories” of community members’ interactions with the Border Patrol.

Among those stories was that of Roldan Salinas’ wife, Crisanta, who said Thursday during the news conference that her husband’s body was not discovered for 21 days after he disappeared.

“Since then, I have been alone taking care of my children, and this has impacted us greatly,” she said.

“It’s difficult for me to understand what happened and explain to my children why he is not here anymore.

“It has been really difficult for me becoming a single mother, going to work alone, taking care of the household, paying the bills and the baby sitter, etc.”

The authors of the footnoted study also called for the passage of state House Bill 1874, which would prevent a non-Border Patrol law enforcement officer from detaining someone on an immigration retainer if the person is eligible for release.

That provision would cover instances in which, for example, a person was jailed on misdemeanor and freed but then might be subject to arrest by the Border Patrol.

State and local law enforcement also would not be able to arrest or detain anyone based on an administrative immigration warrant.

In addition, law enforcement officers would not make a person available to be interviewed by Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless that person is provided an opportunity to be represented by a lawyer and consents to the interview in writing.

State Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, whose 24th District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and about a third of Grays Harbor County, said he had not read the bill, which will be considered in the 2014 legislative session, but was leery of its impact.

“In general, immigration is a federal issue, and I would be a little concerned about interfering with cooperation with federal agencies,” Hargrove said.

State Reps. Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege, both D-Sequim, were unavailable for comment Thursday.

Border Patrol spokesman Colin Burgin of the agency’s Blaine Sector public affairs office saidThursday he forwarded queries about the report to the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters but did not expect an immediate response.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at

HB1079 Awareness Week at UW

•December 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

HB1079, passed in 2003, allows some undocumented students to qualify for in-state college tuition. The cost difference is substantial, over $12,000 per year at UW-Tacoma. In-State tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year at the UW Tacoma is $11,900. Out of state tuition is nearly $30,000 per academic year.

To qualify to be an HB1079 student you have lived in Washington state at least three years, and you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You graduated from a Washington state high school and you completed your senior year of high school in Washington; or
  • You earned the equivalent of a high school diploma, such as a GED.

HB1079 UW

Events this week:
** Monday, December 2nd, 8PM Ethnic Cultural Center – open mic night
** Tuesday, December 3rd, 5PM HUB Room 337 – Guest Speaker Luis Ortego – HB1079 101
** Wednesday, December 4th, 6-8PM, Ethnic Cultural Center Chicano Room – Panel of 5 undocumented students
** Thursday, December 5th, 5-630PM Savery Hall Room 168 – Film Screening of “Lost in Detention”

Film: Unified Struggle on Dede’s Anti-Deportation Victory

•December 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Please join us for the premiere screening of Unified Struggle, a film about successfully stopping Dede’s deportation in early 2013. 

6:00 pm, Friday, December 6th

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

(104 17th Ave S, Seattle – corner of Yesler and 17th Ave)

Unified StruggleWho You Callin’ Illegal? formed to help stop Dede’s deportation. She had already been fighting it for several years thru legal means and community organizing. Earlier this year, we successfully STOPPED her deportation!! Now a film about this struggle, directed by the fabulous and unstoppable Christy X / Guerrilla Films, will be screening on Friday, December 6th, 6PM at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (corner of Yesler and 17th Ave, Seattle). You don’t want to miss this!!


PELÍCULA de Dede – Lucha Unido 

6:00 pm

Viernes, 6 de Deciembre

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

(104 17th Ave S, Seattle – esquina de Yesler y 17th Ave)

A quién llamas ilegal?  fue formado para ayudar a detener la deportación de Dede. Ella ya había estado luchando desde hace varios años a través de medios legales y la organización comunitaria. A principios de este año, se ha detenido correctamentesu deportación! Ahora, una película sobre esta lucha, dirigida por el fabuloso e imparable Christy X Films / Guerrilla Films, se proyectarán! Viernes, 6 de diciembre, 6:00pm en Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (esquina deYesler y 17th Ave, Seattle). No querrás perderse esta película!

Event Today: Stopping King County ICE Holds

•December 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment
(english below)

Ven muestran su apoyo a la:


King County Council Anti-ICE Agarros Voto!

1:30pm, lunes, 2 de Deciembre

King County Court House (516 3rd Avenue Seattle)

12:30pm – informativo picket de volantes con la colectiva a quién llamas ilegal?!

Una agrupación de grupos de derechos de inmigrantes en el condado de King han estado organizando para exigir el fin de lacolaboración entre la Cárcel del Condado de King y de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE). Esto ha significado que la Cárcel del Condado de King hace cumplir un ICE agarro sobre los inmigrantes detenidos antes de soltar los arrestados al ICE.

La votación final por el Consejo del Condado de King en favor del levantamiento de la póliza de los agarros de ICE se llevará a cabo mañana, lunes 2 de diciembre. El evento FB está aquí. Ven y muestren apoyo y ofrece testimonios públicos si se puede!

Por favor, únase a nosotros en un piquete informativo en relación con el tema fuera de King County Court House a las 12:30pm. Tendremos nuestra bandera!


King County Council Anti-ICE Holds Vote!
1:30pm, Monday December 2nd
King County Court House (516 3rd Avenue Seattle)
Informational Fliering Picket with WYCI!
Many immigrant rights groups in King County have been organizing to call for an end to the collaboration between King County Jail and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). This has meant that King County Jail enforces an ICE Hold on immigrant arrestees before releasing arrestees to ICE.
The final vote by the King County Council in favor of lifting the ICE Holds policy will be heldtomorrow, Monday Dec 2nd. The FB event is here. Come show support and offer public testimonies if you can!
Please join us at an informational picket regarding the issue outside the King County Court House at 12:30pm. We will have our banner!

PDF of our flyer that we’ll be passing out is HERE:  ICEHoldsDec1 copy


Language and Accessibility

•November 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hi all,

This community event on Nov 21st  is currently accessible to both Spanish and English speakers. If you know of folks who would like to attend but speak languages other than Spanish and English, please let us know. We want to try our best to make the event accessible to everyone.

If you are able to interpret in another language other than Spanish and English, and able to attend this event, please also let us know so we can have a sense of our capacity to offer interpretation!

If you can’t make it this time but would be interested to help out for future events, that would also be much appreciated!

Thank You!!


Hola a todxs,

El programa de este evento es asequible en inglés y en español. Si sabes de alguien que quisiera asistir pero que habla otros idiomas aparte del español y el inglés, háznoslo saber. Queremos hacer el mejor intento para que este evento alcance a todxs.

Si tú puedes interpretar en otro idioma aparte del español y el inglés, nos quieres ayudar y puedes asistir el día del evento, avísanos y así nos hacemos una idea de cuánta capacidad vamos a tener para poder interpretar.

Si no puedes asistir esta vez pero te interesaría ayudarnos en el futuro ¡te lo agradeceríamos mucho!