Filmmakers Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra are campaigning with others like actor/director John Leguizamo (John Wick) and director/producer Ava Duvernay (Selma) to get one of the primary subjects of the 2019 film The Infiltrators back to the United States.
Claudio Rojas was at the center of Rivera and Ibarra’s hybrid documentary-feature, which won an Audience Award and NEXT Innovator Award when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film follows Rojas’ experience inside an ICE detention center, which includes him staging a hunger strike.
Days before Rojas was supposed to speak at the 2019 Miami Film Festival about his role in the film, he was deported by ICE. Rojas and many others believe he was targeted by the Trump Administration for participating in the film and for speaking to the media.
“This kind of retribution is terrifying,” Rojas writes in an op-ed for the Daily Beast earlier this month. “I know–because it happened to me.”
In the article, Rojas describes how he traveled with his family from Argentina to the United States on a tourist visa. When Rojas was offered a job in Florida, they “made the difficult decision to stay.” Rojas lived, worked and raised his family in Florida for a decade until he was detained by ICE in 2012 for seven months. Once released, Rojas received temporary work authorization, applied for a visa and checked in with ICE under both the Obama and Trump administrations. He said things changed under Trump once he was featured in The Infiltrators.
“Weeks after the film (and my name) was in the national news, I was suddenly deported,” Rojas writes. “I had been in the United States for almost 20 years. To justify the sudden deportation, ICE falsely accused me of ‘crimes.’ It was clear that the true motivation was to punish me for speaking out.”
This type of retribution against immigrants like him, Rojas says, needs to be stopped. “If the United States is to build a more just and humane immigration system, immigrants themselves must be able to speak up. If we can speak safely, we can help build a better country.”
Sign the petition to release Rojas and others like him who have been a target of ICE for using their voice as a weapon.