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For Immediate Release
Media Contact
Sergio Tabora
Benson Pastor and Community Leader Detained Despite Medical Condition, Facing Deportation
Vigil Planned for Wednesday Evening
Benson, NC – Pastor Jose Armando Siliezar-Sevilla, leader of the Ministerio Internacional El Verbo en Accion, and father of a 15-year-old U.S. citizen is detained at Mecklenburg County Jail charged with having lied on an application for adjustment of his immigration status. The family last heard from Pastor Jose Armando 3 weeks ago. He was diagnosed with diabetes after a wound on his foot got infected while in detention. The Benson community, his church, and family and friends are calling for the release of Pastor Jose Armando as he needs treatment not detention. 
On June 3rd, 2014 immigration officers knocked on his door at 6 in the morning and handcuffed him in the presence of his family, including his US citizen son Jozmar who is depressed since the detention of his father.
A community vigil is planned for tomorrow.
What: Vigil and rally
Where: Iglesia Internacional El Verbo en Accion
Address: 105 E. Main St. Benson, NC
Time: 7 pm
We invite members of the press to join us and interview Pastor Jose Armando’s family.
Pastor Jose Armando first came to the United States in 1989 looking for a better life and settled in California. There he worked as a construction worker but the money wasn’t enough to pay the bills. Desperate to make ends meet, he became involved in drug dealing. In 1993, he was charged and convicted of drug possession and served time for two and a half years. After completion of his time in state prison, he was deported to Mexico despite being a Honduran National. That same year, Armando returned to the United States with his mind set on a better life based on the word of God. For the past 17 years, Pastor Armando has been a religious mentor and beloved community leader in Benson, North Carolina.
For more information on Pastor Jose Armando’s case, visit the online petition at

Honduran Tamales for Sale this Sunday!

Special thanks to Don Becerra, Lagos Meat Market, Homegrown City Farms, Ivan Almonte, La Loma Panaderia, Peluqueria Dalana, and Daniel Teodoro for making this sale possible!

Thank you to everyone who made calls and signed the petitions of Fidela and Juan Jose. Fidela Medel Lopez’ deportation was stopped and Juan Jose Ernesto Oliva was released. Now, let’s continue doing the same thing so that Holman Acosta can be released and brought to his family, and stop Luis Zarco’s deportation.

Holman Acosta:

Call Atlanta ICE @ (404) 893-1210
Call DC ICE @ (202) 732-3000 or (202) 732-3100

Sample Script:
“Hi, I’m calling to ask for the release of Holman Acosta (A# 098-894-580) from North Georgia Detention Center. Holman is the head of household and his US citizen wife, who suffers from depression and diabetes, needs him home to care for their 3 US citizen children. Don’t force these kids to grow up without their father. Release Holman now!”

Luis Zarco:

Call Charlotte ICE @ (704) 248-9605
Call DC ICE @ (202) 732-3000 or (202) 732-3100

Sample Script:
“Hi, I’m calling to ask that ICE stop the deportation of Luis Zarco (A# 200-972-096). Luis is the sole bread winner for his family which includes 3 US citizen children. Luis has lived in the US for 15 years and is an outstanding member of the Charlotte community. Please keep him home!”

My name is Michelle Valladarez. I’m 20 years old and I’m undocumented. When I was eight years old, my father made some choices that put my brother and I in a dangerous situation in Honduras, where I was born. Daily I would get pulled out of class and questioned on my father’s whereabouts. We were no longer safe, not even in school. Fearing the worst, my mother decided to bring my brother to the United States. A year later, she sent for me. Luckily, my brother was able to enter the country by plane. I had to cross the border. At such a young age I had heard plenty about the terrible things that happen when trying to cross into the US. I was terrified. It took nearly two months to get to North Carolina, but finally I was reunited with my family.

I was excited to be here and excited to return to school. Since I had attended a bilingual school in Honduras, English was not a barrier for me. But even though I knew English and felt like I had a better future ahead of me, my excitement quickly died when I saw how difficult the life of an illegal immigrant is. Everywhere I went I was faced with racism and in school I got bullied plenty. It felt like it could not get any worse.. until I got to high school and had to start thinking about college that is.

Michelle Valladarez is an undocumented youth from Zebulon, NC. Her dream is to join the Air Force.

Michelle Valladarez is an undocumented youth from Zebulon, NC. Her dream is to join the Air Force.

My first two years of high school were fairly smooth. I had good grades and developed a love and appreciation for the military after I joined AFJROTC. Once I got to my junior year though, depression slowly began to sink in. It hit me that I might not be able to attend college or join the military. I reached out to recruiters and my school counselor in hopes of finding an answer. My school counselors had never been faced with this situation since most students live in the shadows and in fear because of their immigration status. They didn’t know what to do any more than I did. My parents began to share my frustration and fear. They suggested I go back to Honduras or to go study in Mexico. This is an issue that most immigrant students face. In their frustration, parents lose sight of what is truly important to us and instead of being supportive their solution to the problem is to send us back to our country of origin. I refused to give up. I refused to go back.

Even though my Junior year felt tough, I decided to suck it up and give my last year of high school the best I had. The biggest highlight of my senior year was becoming Group Commander of my JROTC Unit and exceeding expectations for our Unit inspection. That brought us to the top 10% of all AFJROTC units in the country. My dream of being in the military grew even more and I looked into the eligibility requirements for an Air Force Scholarship. Out of all the graduating Seniors, I was the only one who really had a chance at that scholarship. But there was one thing missing: papers. My heart was crushed and has been ever since.

After high school I went to college for a year. Wesleyan College, a private school, had given me a scholarship to cover some of the tuition costs and my step-dad agreed to pay what was left. My step-dad is also an illegal immigrant. His job wasn’t steady enough to afford my schooling, so I had to to quit for a year and work to pay off my tuition. As an illegal immigrant it is hard to find a decent job and sometimes you get stuck working for people that underpay you and don’t respect you. That’s why I am thankful for DACA and I can now have a better job and drive without fear. But DACA is only temporary and I still can’t afford paying out-of-state tuition. I also cannot enlist in the military despite having legal presence through deferred action. I also live in fear that my brother will also have to pay the price of being an undocumented student and that my mom or step-dad could get detained for driving with an expired license they can’t renew because NC doesn’t issue licenses to illegal immigrants.

Michelle graduated from Southern Nash High in 2011. Because she's undocumented, she could not get the Air Force scholarship despite the fact that she met all other requirements.

Michelle graduated from Southern Nash High in 2011. Because she’s undocumented, she could not get the Air Force scholarship despite the fact that she met all other requirements.

It has been rough and I’ve had to give up a lot of opportunities due to a lack of “legal status”. But I still have hopes that there will be a silver lining. I am not giving up, and neither should any undocumented youth. We deserve to get an education, to be able to have the job of our choice, and we deserve to have the option of joining the armed forces. But we have to fight for our rights. They’re not just gonna fall from the sky. And that is why I’ve decided to join the NC Dream Team and fight alongside other undocumented youth to improve the situation of our community.

I share my story with you to let you know that you are not alone. But above all to tell you that we must persevere in the face of adversity. I’m a Military DREAMer and my story does not end here.

Astor’s family and friends need him back home! Let’s get him back for the holidays! People make mistakes, it doesn’t mean they should be deported for it.

SIGN the petition at Do it!



Call ICE at 202-732-3000 and tell them this:

Sample Script: “Hi, I was calling to ask that ICE release Astor Romario Mejia Rodriguez (A# 098-596-657). Astor fled Honduras when he was just 11 years old after his uncle was murdered and the people who committed the crime threatened to kill Astor too. He is currently a DREAMer in the 10th grade. Please stop the deportation of Astor now.”

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