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Right to Return: Deported After Protest by His Family, Mexican Immigrant to Attempt U.S. Re-entry

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After being deported to Mexico from his home in Arizona earlier this year, Jaime Valdez joins us to detail his attempt today to re-enter the United States. Valdez says he was deported in retaliation for a hunger strike that his family took part in at the Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protest U.S. immigration policies. “All my family is in the U.S., so that’s why I’m trying to come back,” Valdez says. “We’re going to try to get this message to the president, to stop the deportations and to stop the discrimination and injustice in detention centers.” He and another immigrant hope to rejoin their families today by crossing at a checkpoint in the Mexican border town of Nogales, where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently on a three-day tour visiting with Border Patrol agents and migrants.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, as we turn to our last segment today. Renée?

RENÉE FELTZ: Thanks, Amy. We end today’s show in Mexico, where two immigrants deported in February will try to re-enter the United States today. They say their deportation came in retaliation for a hunger strike their families participated in outside the Phoenix offices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, or ICE. They’re going to try to re-enter at a checkpoint in the border town of Nogales, Mexico, which is where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are on a three-day tour today visiting with Border Patrol agents and migrants. Later today, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston will join them in a hike through part of the nearby desert where undocumented immigrants are known to pass.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Nogales, Mexico, where Jaime Valdez joins us via Democracy Now! video stream, one of the immigrants who will attempt to re-enter the U.S. today at 11:00 local time in Arizona in order to request his case to be reopened, that he be granted humanitarian parole.

Jaime Valdez, welcome to Democracy Now! We just have a few minutes. How did you end up south of the border when you really—what? You lived in—you grew up in Phoenix?

JAIME VALDEZ: My family with all—and other families were part of a demonstration with Puente, which was a hunger strike outside the ICE offices in Phoenix. We were doing our part within the detention center in Eloy, Arizona. And because that demonstration, they put me in solitary. And after that, because of that, they deported me.

AMY GOODMAN: Already detained—Jaime, you were already detained. Your family was outside ICE. They were on hunger strike. So they retaliated—the authorities retaliated against you, who was in detention?

JAIME VALDEZ: Yes, yeah, that’s what happened.

RENÉE FELTZ: And then, can you talk about what happened after you went back to Mexico, what life was like there for you briefly, and why you are working now to come back to the United States today to rejoin your parents and your family?

JAIME VALDEZ: Yeah. When I was deported, it was like another world to me, because I was living in the U.S. for 15 long years, and I was just deported like that. And I decided to come back, because in my hometown there’s a lot of violence going on. The drug cartels are killing people. And all my family is in the U.S., so that’s why I’m trying to come back here now. And we’re going to try to get this message to the president now to—to stop the deportations and to stop the discrimination and injustice in the detention centers all over the country.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you end up in detention? How did you end up being deported? And how were you put in the detention facility, to begin with?

JAIME VALDEZ: Because I was misrepresented by a criminal lawyer in the Maricopa County. And once I get with ICE, I was, like, once again, misrepresented by the immigration lawyers, too. So my family decided to get with this organization, Puente, and they started helping them with my case. And that’s why we were part of Puente now—we are part of Puente.

RENÉE FELTZ: And, Jaime Valdez, you’ve called this action you’re going to take place in today “the right to return.” What do you expect to happen when you go to the border checkpoint in Nogales?

JAIME VALDEZ: Well, I hope they can hear us. They can—we can get our case reopened, and then we can get the human parole, so we can fight our case in American soil and get reunited with our families. And we want to get the message to the President Obama that we are here, and we’re going to fight for the rights of the immigrants, and we’re going to—and we’re going to continue with this.

RENÉE FELTZ: Do you think that you could be detained again today?

JAIME VALDEZ: That’s possible. Yeah, that’s definitely possible. And I am not afraid of that, because, you know, I’ve been detained for so long fighting my case. And I’m ready to still fight my case and be reunited with my family.

AMY GOODMAN: You had a brother who was deported, who ultimately died in Michoacán, where you come from?

JAIME VALDEZ: Yes, yeah. He was deported a year ago. And after that, he was—he was just killed. We still don’t know what happened. We don’t know who did it. And my family and I, we don’t want to go through that kind of stuff again. So that’s why I’m coming back and be reunited with my family.

AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the latest news out of Rome, out of the Vatican? A 10-year-old California girl traveled to the Vatican to plead with Pope Francis to help as her father faced deportation. He was then released on Friday after she met with him, as she was getting on the plane to come back to the United States. Does that give you hope, Jaime?

JAIME VALDEZ: Yeah. I have faith. And I can think we can expect something good from the authorities, because that’s why I am doing these interviews, to raise my voice.

AMY GOODMAN: Jaime, we’re going to have to leave it there. Jaime Valdez, speaking to us from Nogales. We’ll see if he makes it into the United States.

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