On December 4, friends, loved ones and supporters led by Migrante Portland and Migrante Seattle trooped to the court to demonstrate support for Larry Nicolas who is unjustly detained in a private U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. The group called for his immediate release and to stop his imminent deportation. The hearing on Larry’s case was however posponed as the judge sought additional information on his condition.
Larry Nicolas has been a legal and permanent resident in the US for 17 years. In August 2018, on the day of his release from jail, he was secretly whisked away by ICE agents and detained at the Northwest Detention Center, a private immigration prison in Tacoma.
Larry has been struggling with a life-long mental condition which got him involved in a conflict and led to his incarceration. While in jail, he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and was able to get access to mental healthcare and psychiatric services which greatly improved his condition. This led to the dismissal of the restraining order filed against him and was ordered to be released in August 2018.
Nestor Nicolas, Larry’s father criticized ICE agents for withholding information on his whereabouts when he was transferred to Tacoma. Nestor stated,”they should’ve let us know, so we’d know where to find our son. If he didn’t call, we wouldn’t know where to find him. They didn’t let us know. He has a family here. He has kids. He has parents.They should have let us know before they took him to a different city.”
According to Migrante, Larry’s case is a preview of a more massive scale of arrests, detention and deportations of immigrants.
In September, Trump raised a proposal that would punish legal immigrants for accessing social welfare benefits including medical assistance. Migrante blasted this anti-migrant policy as the they likewise called for Larry’s immediate release.
The Nicolas family and Migrante expressed fear that Larry’s deportation would be a “death sentence considering the worsening crisis in the Philippines and the government’s indifference to Filipinos facing similar situations.”
Larry’s daughter Jy’violette stated, “I don’t want my dad deported to the Philippines, not only because he’s a big part of my life, but because he’ll die if he goes to the Philippines.”
In January 2017, when asked about the US-crackdown on immigrants, Duterte said, “If you are not allowed to stay there, get out. If you get caught there and deported, I will not lift a finger.”
Arman Hernando, spokesperson of Migrante International did not mince words as he chastised the Duterte government’s inaction. “Duterte’s inutility in challenging Trump’s Fascist persecution of migrants and their families totally debunks his fake pro-migrant posturing. Duterte is best at glorifying OFW contributions to the economy with US-based Filipinos as number 1 remittance contributor but completely disregards their welfare when they are besieged by harmful immigration policies.”