Portland activist seeks asylum in church to avoid deportation

Article author: 
Kasia Hall
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Francisco Aguirre, a local labor activist originally from El Salvador, took refuge Friday in a Northeast Portland church...

"I've been a leader in this community for so many years," Aguirre said. "I'm part of this community, and this is where I belong. This is where I want to stay."

Aguirre was deported to El Salvador in 2000 after a conviction for drug trafficking offenses, ICE said in a statement. Aguirre came to the agency's attention again in August after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence...

He acknowledged that he was deported 14 years ago, but declined to comment further..

Aguirre was involved in the Workers' Organizing Committee that went on to found Voz Workers' Rights Education Project, nonprofit organization that mostly helps male Latino immigrants find work in Portland. He currently serves as the MLK Jr. Worker Center coordinator for the group.

Churches elsewhere in the country have been offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants...

ICE agents do not make arrests in sensitive locations...

Aguirre, a father of three, said he plans to stay at the church for as "long as it takes."

"We all make mistakes," he said. "We all have the right to fix those mistakes."