Some 200 people turned out in Portland Monday night for a rally to support workers rights and the rights of immigrants.
Speakers included the wife of a Naples man, Otto Morales-Caballeros, who was detained by federal immigration agents just over two weeks ago when he was on his way to work at a lobster packing company.
“I fell in love with a sweet, kind, humble and grateful man — the light of my life. He just happened to be undocumented,” says Sandra Scribner Merlim.
Merlim says her husband’s detention is just one example of radical, Gestapo-like tactics of Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities under the Trump administration.
“In their efforts to round up the people that they deem as undesirables, violent criminals, and as Mr. Sessions put it, ‘the filth from our country,’ many people like my husband simply do not fit into this category. It’s morally unacceptable,” she says.
Merlim says her husband is being held in a New Hampshire jail and faces likely deportation on what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say was a judge’s order from 2010.
Carlos, a Farmington college student from Mexico who asked that his last name not be used, says he is a permanent legal resident of the U.S., but since the presidential election, he has become scared about his future here.
“I don’t feel welcome here anymore,” he says. “I felt welcome in Maine when I came three years ago. Once I got into college I felt a lot of racism and I felt like ‘Wow, I want to make a change.’“
Carlos joined Cosecha, a national immigrants’ rights movement that was one of several workers and immigrants groups that joined the event, which was organized by the Maine People’s Alliance.
Other speakers called on the crowd to contact local and congressional lawmakers to advocate for the immigrant community, and to resist efforts in Augusta to restrict benefits for recent immigrants or to sanction so-called sanctuary cities that do not actively enforce federal immigration laws.