NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hundreds of people took to the streets of New Haven on Tuesday night showing the fight against new immigration policies remains strong. The rally was held in honor of Yale Senior Viviana Andazola Morales whose father was detained last week by ICE officials in Colorado.
“She’s absolutely incredible in terms of leadership and academics. She’s been a fabulous friend to have,” said Joseph Zordan, a fellow Yale student.
“Viviana is one of my very close friends, someone who has really changed the way I approach school, the way that I interact with people and this has deeply affected her so it deeply affected me as well,” said Fernando Rojas, a Yale junior.
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Viviana sat down with reporters just days after her father was detained in Denver. Instead of leading her fellow students, she’s leading the fight for her father’s freedom.
“This has been a traumatic experience for my father. This has been his worst nightmare since he entered,” said Viviana.
Melecio Andazola Morales came to the United States from Mexico in 1997. He was denied entry and given an order of exclusion. He returned a year later without documentation and has been here ever since. His four children were all born and raised in the U.S.
Viviana says immigration officials mislead her and her father. He believed he was completing the process to get a green card and was going to be allowed to stay. Instead, officials asked to speak to Melecio alone and that’s when Viviana says they handcuffed him and took him into custody.
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“I’m begging and asking ICE to release my dad and grant him a stay of removal. But I also think they should think deeply about what they are doing. Are they really doing this out of national safety concerns or is there a different political agenda that they’re trying to push?” Said Viviana.
Rallies were held simultaneously in New Haven and in Denver. As the groups chanted and cheered the hope is their message will be heard and Melecio will be allowed to return to his family.
“We just really hope to know to make sure that she and her family know that she’s not alone and that she definitely has people that are here fighting for her in whatever way we can,” said Zordan.
ICE agents have said Melecio committed a felony when he came to the U.S. After being issued the Order of Exclusion. Viviana says if her father is deported or remains in custody she may have to remain in Colorado to care for her younger siblings.