Images above from Thursday, March 15 as David Chavez-Macias visited Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Reno.
Members of ACTIONN along with individuals from the community gathered in front of Reno’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office Thursday and Friday to show their support of David Chavez-Macias, who made news in April 2017 when he took sanctuary at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada (UUFNN) to avoid deportation to Mexico.
After receiving a stay of deportation on Aug. 21, 2017 things appeared to be on the upswing for Chavez-Macias and his family. However, on Feb. 17 Chavez-Macias was called to the Reno ICE office and compelled to wear an ankle monitor tracking his location. He was also given 30 days to appeal his case before he would be deported.
Despite efforts from his lawyer, ACTIONN, community members, as well as the office of US Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, ICE made the decision to move forward with his deportation.
On Friday, March 16 David Chavez-Macias stood in front of ICE headquarters and spoke to community members who have been rallying for him for just shy of one year. With translation by Alejandra Hernández Chávez, he expressed his great gratitude for everyone who had given their time and effort to help him.
J.D. Klippenstein, executive director of ACTIONN, then led a prayer circle after which Chavez-Macias and his daughters entered the ICE office, suitcase in tow. It was then that the weight of the situation seemed to hit many people as they knew that was the last time they would see Chavez-Macias. Many in the crowd became tearful, especially those who have been rallying for Chavez-Macias for almost a year.
Alejandra Hernández Chávez, of ACTIONN, spoke to the emotional audience about how broken the US immigration system is. Chavez-Macias’s biggest crime was a minor traffic offense and that was the catalyst for his deportation. Chavez-Macias lived in the Reno area and worked, via legal work permits, as a landscaper for more than three decades.
Despite the near blizzard conditions, all but a few stayed to talk amongst each other and express their frustrations with the current immigration system.
Chavez-Macias was offered sanctuary once again in the UUFNN but declined. It is suspected by individuals close to Chavez-Macias that this was because of ICE intimidation.
In addition to the ankle bracelet, I was told second hand that ICE had visited his home and had told him they were watching him. Chavez-Macias’s lawyer also informed Alejandara Hernadez Chavez that ICE had requested that the media not be present or informed of what was happening. (I only received this information second hand and am only representing it as what I was told, not as verified information.)
While Chavez-Macias does have some family in Mexico, there is great concern over his health situation. Chavez-Macias suffers from Marfan syndrome and in addition to requiring weekly checkups has had three major surgeries. It is highly unlikely he will be able to find treatment in Mexico.
Images below are from Friday, March 16 as David Chavez-Macias went to ICE headquarters and was deported.
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.