Floricel Recounts Separation From Her Family and Harrowing ICE Detention

Illustration: Miguel Arzabe

Illustration: Miguel Arzabe

Floricel Liborio Ramos, a single mother of 3 children, was separated from her children and denied freedom for over 11 months. She vividly retells what would have been an ordinary Sunday breakfast at IHOP that turned into a horrible nightmare.

"When you’re in detention, they own you. You’re impotent. They take a hold of you. And that’s where the uncertainty comes in. You don’t know if it will be weeks, months, or years until they make a decision. It becomes difficult to tell reality from fiction. It changes your state of mind. It’s like you are dead, but actually you are alive. It’s like when they put meat in the freezer. You’re stuck in time."

Since Floricel's release in March of this year, she has used her voice to speak out against ICE's vile tactics and the horrendous detention conditions immigrants are subjected to. Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/16/what-its-like-when-ice-detains-you-they-own-you-youre-impotent

High School Students to Deliver $25,000 Check to Free Detained 17-year-old Asylum Seeker

 ICE continues to criminalize Afghan boy

San Francisco, CA-  On Friday, June Jordan High School students will be delivering a $25,000 check to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release Hamid, a teenager fleeing Afghanistan because of safety concerns with the Taliban and ISIS. Hamid will finally be free after struggling for 6 months in an adult detention center, where he was placed based on an inaccurate dental exam.  

“This is a bittersweet moment. Yeah, it’s great that the bond money got raised, but that money could’ve been given to him for his college tuition.” said graduated senior Christian Ramirez. “He shouldn’t be paying anything to ICE because he hasn’t done anything at all, except not being from the United States.”  

The students are part of a group called 415 Unidos for Freedom. They have been focused on spreading awareness about immigrant rights, while also being a support system for people being unjustly detained. They have been interacting closely with Hamid’s case, and even skipped their senior trip last Monday to visit Hamid at the detention center in Bakersfield.  

“When I asked him if he’s spoken with his mother, he broke down crying because he hasn’t talked to her in over six months,” Alan Gutierrez said. “Thanks to his release, he will have the opportunity to contact his family.”  

Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, the students were able to make a strong connection with Hamid, which gave them the strength to work harder to fight for immediate action of his release.  

Pangea planned to sue ICE if Hamid was still detained by Friday, expending many resources for a single client who should have been released months ago.  “Although we are infinitely grateful for our community, the students, and the many Mosques who supported Hamid, we are just as frustrated by our system" said Hamid's attorney, Mariel Villarreal at Pangea Legal Services. “ICE is systematically criminalizing children and adult asylum seekers alike, and this needs to end."   

Who: Students from 415 Unidos for Freedom

What: Delivering $25,000 bond check to ICE to secure Hamid’s release  

When: June 8, 2018 at 8:30 am

Where: ICE Building, 630 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Visuals: Check being delivered to ICE, rally by students and community members outside the building


Free 17-Year Old From Adult Detention!

Free 17-Year Old From Adult Detention!

Please join us in signing this petition calling on Senator Harris to help us free Hamid from the Mesa Verde Detention Center. This 17-year old child has been detained with adults since December, despite having a family friend to live with in Austin, Texas.

There is no reason for ICE to continue to deny his multiple requests for release. Please sign this petition calling on Senator Harris to champion Hamid’s case. Please help us get the word out by sharing this petition with a friend or two!!

Trump Administration Refuses to Release Minor from Adult Custody

Sign the petition to release Hamid, our client who is a 17-year-old Afghan child who has been detained in adult ICE detention for 5 months!

Last week, Democracy Now! covered the story of our client Hamid, who is a 17-year-old Afghan child that has been detained in adult ICE detention for 5 months now. Hamid was initially designated a minor when he arrived at the U.S. border in late 2017, after he walked up to immigration officers and asked for asylum. Hamid was placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) -- the agency that handles the care and custody of unaccompanied migrant children -- and lived in a state-licensed group home for other migrant children his own age. Several weeks into Hamid's stay, ORR sent x-rays of Hamid's teeth to Dr. David Senn at the University of Texas to try to determine his age. Dr. Senn never examined Hamid in person and only relied on his dental x-rays to estimate Hamid's age range between 16 and 23 years old, a seven-year span. 

Based on Dr. Senn's faulty dental exam, Hamid was then transferred from ORR custody to adult ICE detention in Bakersfield, CA, where he has been detained for the last 5 months. Meanwhile, Hamid has a family friend in Texas who has offered to support Hamid with housing and financial support, if Hamid is released from ICE custody. Hamid's attorneys have submitted a third parole request to ICE based on additional evidence of support for Hamid's release, but ICE has still not made a decision on the request. Each day that goes by is one more day that Hamid, a minor, sits in adult detention. 

Sign the petition to release Hamid!

Federal District Court’s Order Freeing Floricel Liborio Should Serve as a Lesson to All Immigration Judges Across the U.S.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Pangea client, Floricel Liborio Ramos, was freed from immigration detention after substantial litigation, multiple appeals, and requests for her release. Today, on her first day free after 11 months, Floricel came out to speak in gratitude for the massive community love and support she received throughout her detention. We hope that her case can set a positive example for judges and courts across the United States.  Read the Federal District Court's order here.  

Community members from Faith in Action, RISE, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the Immigrant Liberation Movement, and others out in support of Floricel's hearing at the Federal District Court in Northern California (San Francisco, March 13, 2017) 

Community members from Faith in Action, RISE, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the Immigrant Liberation Movement, and others out in support of Floricel's hearing at the Federal District Court in Northern California (San Francisco, March 13, 2017) 


Federal District Court’s Order Freeing Floricel Liborio Should Serve as a Lesson to All Immigration Judges Across the U.S.

 Immigrant rights activists celebrate the momentous reuniting of Floricel Liborio Ramos with her family after order by United States District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar requiring her release. The order should serve as a lesson to immigration judges that they cannot deny bond to immigrants simply because of a DUI.

WHAT: Press conference in celebration of Floricel’s returning home to her children after over 11 months in immigration custody

WHERE: Phillip Burton Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94111

WHEN: 11:30am on Thursday, March 15, 2018

WHO: Floricel, immigrant rights activists, faith leaders and other supporters 

San Francisco, CA- Immigrant rights activists hold press conference at SF Federal District Court Building welcoming Floricel Liborio Ramos after she was released on Wednesday following a District Court order granting her immediate release from the West County Detention Facility.  Ms. Liborio Ramos detention comes to a celebrated closure after District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar ruled that the Government failed to meet its burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that Ms. Liborio Ramos poses a threat to the community.

Judge Tigar found Immigration Judge Burch had erred when she unfairly ruled that Floricel was a danger to the community given her previous DUIs, “The IJ’s decision not to release Liborio Ramos rests firmly on Liborio Ramos’s two DUI convictions.[...] while an immigrant’s criminal history is relevant, ‘criminal history alone will not always be sufficient to justify denial of bond on the basis of dangerousness.’”

"[T]wo non-violent [DUI] misdemeanors in which no one was injured, in light of the other facts in this record, simply do not justify indefinite detention," Judge Tigar's ruling continued. In a few days, Ms. Liborio Ramos would have been detained for nearly a year, more than the longest sentence she could have served under California law for a misdemeanor DUI.

"We’re seeing undocumented immigrants punished twice by the immigration courts," claimed Jehan Laner Romero, Ms. Liborio Ramos' attorney at Pangea Legal Services. "This was the case with Floricel, who was complying with the criminal court order for her prior DUI conviction.”

Community supporters of Ms. Liborio have much to celebrate after 8 months of arduous efforts to support her case by packing the courtroom during her hearings, holding rallies and uplifting their support for Floricel. Immigration Judge Valerie A. Burch had denied her bond on two different occasions, even though the Government failed to sustain its burden to prove Ms. Liborio Ramos was a danger to the community. To many, this only highlights the unjust practices of some immigration courts — and the importance of higher courts and community members to hold immigration judges accountable. "An immigration court should not serve to merely justify an immigrant's deportation, but rather it should be there to serve justice," said Blanca Vazquez, one of the organizers supporting Ms. Liborio Ramos' case with the Immigrant Liberation Movement. "We hope Floricel's case serves as a lesson for all immigration judges across the United States." 


Floricel speaks at press conference before the court that ordered her release (San Francisco, March 15, 2018)

Floricel speaks at press conference before the court that ordered her release (San Francisco, March 15, 2018)


4th of July Celebration Ends in Possible Deportation of DACA Recipient

Case Underscores Troubling Trend: Trump Administration Making False Accusations to Target DACA Recipients

California-- A recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Rodrigo Farfan, was released on June 27th from the Mesa Verde Detention Center after a campaign by community members calling on ICE to release him. ICE officials detained Rodrigo on June 15th, the same day the Trump administration announced it would continue the program created by the Obama administration in 2012.

Rodrigo, now 22, has lived in California since immigrating here with his family, from Bolivia, in 2001. He had previously twice renewed his DACA, most recently in 2016, and has a valid work permit through October 2018. Ironically, though the United States is the only country Rodrigo has known, he is facing deportation for celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks.

“I love this country. I have had my DACA renewed and I just didn’t think stuff like this happened to immigrants like me, and in California of all states. I don’t want to be deported, especially not for celebrating the 4th of July and the freedom that this country represents to me,” Rodrigo said from detention.

Last Fourth of July, despite his neighbors also setting off fireworks, police officers singled out Rodrigo and cited him for using fireworks. Several months later, local authorities charged him with a misdemeanor; he plead guilty and paid a $415 fine on June 12 of this year. Just three days later, ICE agents stalked Rodrigo outside his house and arrested him when he left for work. “We love Rodrigo and our whole family is devastated that he is facing deportation for something like this” says Fabiana, Rodrigo’s older sister, “he is the breadwinner of our family,”

Additionally, suggesting a troubling trend, ICE officials started spreading false statements about Rodrigo shortly after receiving inquiries from the media about his case. Echoing the wrongful accusations ICE leveled against a Seattle DACA recipient whom a judge ultimately released, ICE officials are making false and unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation. The Trump administration’s preference for alternative facts is embedded in the exploitation of racial stereotypes to criminalize DACA recipients like Rodrigo and advance a xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda.

Rodrigo was released on June 27th on an Order of Recognizance and his Notice to Appear was canceled. “The actions of the Trump administration have resulted in Rodrigo’s DACA to be terminated. He was released, but only after his deportation proceedings resulted in his losing his DACA status.” Niloufar Khonsari “The Trump administration can right this wrong by giving Rodrigo his DACA back, unless the real message here is that DACA recipients are no longer safe under the Trump administration.”



Yazmin Elias’ Case Highlights the Myth of Sanctuary for Immigrants Convicted of Crimes

For immediate release: May 19, 2017

Contact: Pangea Legal Services (415) 254-0475


After 15 months in immigration detention, Yazmin was only released after a Habeas petition

San Francisco, CA-- For many immigrants like Yazmin Elias, a client of Pangea Legal Services, California has failed them. The state has instituted a great number of policies to protect immigrants, yet everyday people like Yazmin fall through the cracks and end up in indefinite detention, at the hands of federal officials who have no interest in seeing them as human beings, capable of making mistakes, learning from them and becoming better people.

“Yazmin was convicted of 3 DUI’s, but was eventually, identified by a specialized DUI court as a victim of 20 years of domestic violence who deserved rehab and treatment, not incarceration,” said Luis Angel Reyes Savalza, one of Yazmin’s attorneys at Pangea Legal Services. “After completing 3-months of in-patient rehabilitation, and while enrolled in outpatient therapy, Yazmin was picked up by ICE after a court hearing in Sonoma County. Yazmin spent 15 months in immigration detention - 100 times longer than she ever had to serve for her past record - and for a charge that had already been resolved through rehabilitation by a specialized DUI court. She was only released after a Federal District Court issued an opinion that left the Immigration Judge with few options but to grant bond.”

Despite being a ‘sanctuary state,’ immigrants like Yazmin are routinely turned over to immigration officials who then punish them again for crimes they have already paid a price for. “In this case, after having been denied a bond three times by an immigration judge, Yazmin was released only after a Habeas petition we filed resulted in a strongly worded opinion by the Federal District Court,” said Etan Newman, another of Yazmin’s attorneys at Pangea Legal Services. "The District Court judge pretty much stated what we had been arguing for months, that the immigration court could not say our client was dangerous when the specialized DUI court had already said she was not.”

Yazmin’s immigration judge relented on May 11th by finally granting a bond of $25,000. Yazmin was released on May 15th, only after her community was able to raise the funds to post the immigration bond. “Yazmin, and others like her, are finding themselves serving indefinite years-long sentences through our immigration system simply because our State continues to cooperate with ICE agents,” said Reyes Savalza.

Pangea is committed to continuing to file Habeas petitions for clients just like Yazmin. “What the government has made clear to us is that they will only respect the rights of immigrants when we hold them accountable, and if that means filing a habeas petition for every wrongly detained family, that’s what we’re prepared to do,” said Newman.

What: Yazmin Elias to join community rally

When: Friday May 19th, at 11:00AM

Where: Women’s Building, 3583 18th St. San Francisco, Ca 94110




7 Ways You Can Stand with Our Immigrant Community

7 Ways You Can Stand with Our Immigrant Community

Looking for ways to support the immigrant community? We’ve compiled a list of 7 ways YOU can make a difference!


1.     Become a Migra Watch Observer & ICE Raids Responder: Volunteer your time to document and monitor ICE officials during immigration raids in real-time.    

●      Interest form: Once filled out, you will receive emails informing you about upcoming Migra Watch trainings.

2.     Volunteer with Pangea – We are currently looking for Spanish to English translators. This is a remote position for those looking to make an impact!

●      How To Apply: If you think you are a good fit, please apply!  

3.     Take Action: Attending protests and rallies shows that our community is strong, united, and powerful. We will not sit idly by while our people are experiencing mistreatment by the new administration.

●      Bay Area Resistance & Rapid Response: Receive updates for actions in the Bay Area about immigration and other resistance efforts.

●      FreeSF: Upcoming events in San Francisco

4.     Make your voice heard: Call your representatives and speak up about policies that are important to you and directly impact our community.

●      5calls.org: Makes calling your legislator easy and effective! Research and a script is already provided for you.

5.     Boycott Trump: A small step, like boycotting business that support the new administration, can have great impact if we act collectively.

●      List of companies doing business with the Trump family – how to contact companies and demand action.

6.     Get Informed: Keeping yourself informed is vital to monitoring and responding to xenophobic policies. Being an ally means educating yourself about the issues of the communities you support. 

●      FreeSF: Immigrant policies in San Francisco

●      California Immigrant Policy Center: Current Immigration policies in California

●      National Immigration Law Center: Information about Civil Rights in ICE Encounters

7.     Donate: If you can, contribute to Pangea Legal Services to enable us to actively work alongside the immigrant community for dignity and freedom to move for all.

●      Donate and Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter to stay in touch!