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Unions Unite to Stop the Deportation of Member

SEIU and the Hotel Trades Council are fighting to reunite the father of 4 with his family after Trump's ICE detained him

Kris LaGrange's picture
Mar 06, 2019

On Tuesday, union leaders from SEIU 32 BJ and the Hotel Trades Council (HTC) joined local congressional representatives at a press conference calling on the Trump administration to release Baba Sillah from ICE detention.

Sillah, a member of 32 BJ, was taken into custody on January 31st when he arrived at his routinely scheduled check-in. An immigrant from Gambia, Sillah has lived in the United States since 1993 and worked as a union porter on the Upper East Side since 2006. Also, at the press conference where his wife Mamou Drame, an HTC member, and five daughters.

"My father is caring, he is loving, he takes care of us and supports us," said Sillah's 10-year-old daughter Aminata, through tears. "Even through the tough times we always stick together."

Since being taken into custody over a month ago Sillah has been held in ICE's Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, New Jersey and has not been able to see his family. Last week, he called his wife at 7:45 PM to tell her that he was being placed on an 8:20 PM flight to Gambia. However, in those 40 minutes, Sillah’s attorneys were able to convince an immigration judge to order a stay of deportation and allow him to stay in the country until he gets a hearing on March 15th.

"We simply want this gentleman to be released so he can spend time with his family, so he can support his family and so he can work while his case is processed," said Peter Ward the President of HTC.

Unfortunately, Sillah’s case is becoming more and more common. In August of 2017, the Painters union held a series of protests after two members from one of their California locals were detained.

“There’s been a large increase since Trump took over in detentions of people who are doing their normal check-ins,” said immigration attorney Patrick Young. “These are people who, during the Obama administration, enjoyed some protection because they had lived here for a long time and had strong family ties to the country. When Trump came in, these people began to be arrested and targeted.”

Sillah's family, union, and lawyers are hoping that a judge will grant him a stay of deportation on March 15th and allow him to not only reunite with his family but put him on a road to a more permanent legal status in the United States.

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