General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Calls for Union Members Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nuñez Be Released from Unjust ICE Detention
In response to the refusal by ICE officials to release two wrongfully detained union members and as their asylum applications are being appealed to the 9th circuit court, Kenneth E. Rigmaiden, General President, issued the following statement:
“It’s been two months since our brothers Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nuñez were detained after showing up to work. That’s two months they have been kept away from their families, from their jobs and their communities; and that is unacceptable. .
These two union members were only detained because they showed up for work. We will not allow the act of showing up to work be criminalized.
Most of our union members move between states, cities, and towns; going from job to job building a better future for themselves and their families. That’s what we do; we go where the opportunities are. Hugo and Rodrigo moved from their home countries for similar reasons.
We will continue to stand by our union brothers Hugo and Rodrigo, the same way we have stood by other union members before them; be it when they have been exploited by an employer on the job or while experiencing extreme hardship of any kind. We will not let a broken immigration system take our brothers away from us without a fight.
We will do everything in our power to get them released, reunited with their families and back at a worksite wearing their hardhats ready to work without fear.”
On Wednesday, May 3, 2017, Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nuñez, two construction union members showed up to work at a hospital, which happen to be inside Travis Air force Base in Northern California . Once at the base entrance they were required to present a U.S. issued identifications, and so they presented their California-issued-Driver’s-Licenses. They were then asked to present social security numbers and they presented their ITIN (individual taxpayer number) unaware this would be the trigger for military base staff to detain them and call ICE. Hugo and Rodrigo were then apprehended at the Travis Air Force base for two hours before being transferred to an ICE detention facility.