by Freedom for Immigrants

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“I finished my probation for 7 years, and also I paid for my situations. Why am I still being deported?”

“How am I going manage all of these things facing me right now? Ravi in detention, bills to pay, food, just day to day living? How am I going to manage with Ravi not here?

“Where am I going to live? My husband’s from Guiana and I’m from Trinidad. If you want to deport him, where is going to be our new home? Where is home? Because you are splitting my family right now. My husband's in jail and I'm here. Where do I go from here?

These are some of the voices featured in the opening of "Melting the Ice," a collaborative new radio project created in hopes of highlighting the stories of immigrants who have suffered in ICE jails and prisons, as well as the ways in which immigrant communities and allies have been fighting against our massive immigration detention system.

We hope the broadcasts will reach people inside detention.

Host Luis Luna, an organizer, activist, radio programmer and immigrant who moved to the US from Ecuador when he was 13, introduces the first episode by saying, "This radio series is dedicated to sharing stories of how US immigration and customs enforcement is impacting families across the US, how this system works, who is profiting, and sharing information and strategies about how people are fighting back."

Luis goes on to say, "Here we share the story of Tony Chen, a restaurant manger in NYC. He’s a father of 3 young New Yorkers. A husband and loved community member. Born in China, Tony is a legal permanent resident – aka he has a green card. But a few years ago Tony was ripped apart from his family for something he’d done in the past. In the summer of 2015, 7 years after committing a nonviolent financial crime, and shortly after completing 5 years of probation, immigration officials suddenly appeared on Tony’s doorstep at the crack of dawn. They plucked him from his home and family and placed him in immigration detention. He was sent to the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack for pending deportation proceedings. Tony was shocked that a crime he had already atoned for, a crime for which he had received no jail time, could now place him in detention and threaten to break his family apart."

Here, in the first episode of "Melting the Ice," Tony tells his story in his own words.

About Melting the ICE: This project was done in collaboration with a team of amazing individuals:

  • Daniela Ugaz and Priya Sreenivasan, who are second-year law students at New York University and student advocates with the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, under the supervision of Nancy Morawetz, Professor of Clinical Law at NYU.
  • Sylvia Ryerson, an independent radio producer and current graduate student in American Studies at Yale, who for many years co-hosted the production of Calls from Home, a nationally recognized radio program sending phone messages from family members to their loved ones incarcerated in the U.S. prison system.  From this work she founded Restorative Radio, a project that send "Audio Postcards" from family members to their loved ones in prison.
  • Luis Luna, activist, community organizer and radio host for WPKN Radio, where he hosts his own self-titled program mixing alternative music and social justice that amplify collective voices in his community.