Protests occur throughout New Haven against deportations

Victoria Bresnahan –  News Editor


We walk so Nelson can.” That was what one of the posters read at the student walkout
for Nelson Pinos, an immigrant who has lived in this country for 26 years, read at the student walkout last Thursday.

Several students walked out of class to rally support for Pinos who has been seeking shelter from deportation at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church near the New Haven green for almost a year.

“His humanity is stripped away from him because he came to this country when he was 18,” said Justin Farmer, a political science major and activist participating in the rally. “Since then he has worked. He has a home. He is contributing. He is paying taxes.”

Students walked out at Yale University and some New Haven high schools, as well.

Originally from Ecuador, Pinos has been living in the church
for 294 days, said Jesus Morales, an organizer at Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA).

“He has not been able to leave a building,” said Morales. “He has not been able to go to the park.”

Community Outreach Chair for the Muslim Student Association and activist at the rally Asma Rahimyar, said they were standing in solidarity not only for Nelson, but also for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

“Every single person deserves human rights, regardless of where they are from,” said Rahimyar. “What background they come from, and what they have been through. So, whenever that human right is infringed upon we need to get up and we need to speak out.”


Charles Biddiscombe, a senior, economics and sociology double major, was one of the students in charge of the protest. Biddiscombe said Pinos was set to be deported in November 2017. Pinos was working with ULA New Haven on his case, but ultimately he chose to take sanctuary in the church, he said.

Due to old legislation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is restricted from removing immigrants from churches. Pinos is one of four people taking sanctuary in Connecticut, said Biddiscombe.

“It is actually an incredibly easy process for him to get released from the church,” said Biddiscombe. “It is just granting a stay of removal, which involves reopening his case. But that will

only happen if there is community agitation for it, because otherwise it will just stay on the shelves.”

In addition, Pinos is currently wearing an ankle bracelet so ICE is aware of his location, he said.

Motivated by a passion for social justice, Biddiscombe said he became involved in Pinos’ case when he learned of ULA’s commitment to work on behalf of immigrants. The organization conducts meetings at the United Methodist church to

include Pinos in this process.

This walkout is one of many events that will be occurring in support of Pinos, he said. The action following the walkout will also be large and potentially bring additional attention to his case, said Biddiscombe.

“The first part of the escalation was just a march through New Haven; so general community” said Biddiscombe. “But this
one is because it draws attention to the fact that Nelson’s children are
also in New Haven public schools. So, it is really tying this specific aspect of the community and young people.”

Photo Credit: Jenna Stepleman


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