Matthew Rojas, a local performer who was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)agents on his way to a court appearance in New Paltz on November 25, was released on bail February 1. Rojas’ apprehension caused an uproar, not only among friends and supporters, but New Paltz Town Board members who had passed a law declaring New Paltz a sanctuary for undocumented residents. Rojas is a member of a group which is central to the immigration debate in recent years; namely those brought illegally into this country when they were children. While some believe that their inability to come here of their own free will should be enough to give them leeway and perhaps even a path to citizenship, others advocate for deportation to send a strong message that American immigration laws will be enforced in all cases.
According to friend Kevin Halcott, Rojas was granted a $7,500 bail request submitted by an attorney paid for largely through community donations. After a belated family Christmas celebration and reunion with local friends, Halcott said that Rojas is going to focus on rectifying his legal status.
Martinez gets support
Luis Martinez, the local business owner picked up by ICE agents when he arrived at his office last month, is also getting support from public officials and private citizens. Town and village board members passed a resolution in support of his release at their February 7 joint meeting, and Deputy Supervisor Dan Torres said that letters supporting the same may be dropped off at Town Hall in his mailbox. It’s not yet clear how to direct those, and Torres recommends addressing them “to whom it may concern.”