Session Type(s): Panel, Streamed Session
Starts: Friday, Jul. 14 1:30 PM (Central)
Ends: Friday, Jul. 14 2:30 PM (Central)
Room: Continental C
For more than a decade, organizers have been pushing back against ICE detention—and winning! Learn more about the state legislative campaigns, national coordination and local fights that have shut down multiple facilities and freed hundreds of people from cruel, degrading, often life-threatening incarceration. The legislative successes from our states, including Illinois, provide inspiration and instructions for anyone fighting for freedom and dignity for all. This panel will present on how, using an abolitionist framework, state advocates shifted strategies between the Trump and Biden administrations to end abuse and the local proliferation of ICE detention beds.
Luis Suarez is the Field Advocacy Manager for Detention Watch Network, where he works to end immigration detention through local and state legislation and community engagement in the federal appropriation process. Before joining Detention Watch Network, Luis served as Policy Coordinator for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, where he worked on key legislation advancing immigrant rights in California, including the California Values Act (SB-54), Health4All (SB-29), and the Sidewalk Vending Act (SB-946). As an advocate, Luis is known for his ability to build coalitions, consult on state legislation strategy, and work with people directly impacted by immigration detention and policymakers to create meaningful change. Luis’s background as a former undocumented person and a member of the LGBTQ community informs his work in advocating for immigrant rights. He deeply understands the challenges facing immigrant communities and is committed to advancing policies that promote justice and equality.
Tania Mattos is an Aymara descendant, Bolivian-born, Queens, NY-based organizer, activist, and policy advocate with over 13 years of experience. She is a founding member of the Abolish ICE NY NJ Coalition which was started in 2018 to support ongoing organizing to end ICE detention in both states. Tania is also a founder member of Queens Neighborhoods United, a grassroots anti-gentrification collective that fights against gentrification, police abuse, and ICE in Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst, Queens. Tania’s extensive background includes working with the Plurinational State of Bolivia at the United Nations, focusing on environmental and indigenous issues. She has also served as the Legislative Coordinator for the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first undocumented-led organization in New York State. During her time there, she worked on participatory defense campaigns through the Education Not Deportation program, successfully halting the deportation of numerous undocumented youth in 2011. She was a DACA recipient from 2012 to 2019. Tania draws inspiration from her cultural heritage and Queens upbringing, fueling her unwavering commitment to organizing, fostering leadership, and striving for freedom within all impacted communities.
Amy Torres (they/them or she/her) is Executive Director for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ). NJAIJ is the state’s largest immigration coalition, bringing together over 50 organizations to fight for policies that empower and protect immigrants. Under Torres’s leadership, NJAIJ has served as a watchdog for New Jersey’s Drivers Licenses for All program and fought for the East Coast’s first ban on immigration detention contracts. Firmly rooted in Torres’s identity is their experience as a Filipinx American and the core belief that human rights and liberties should not be subject to change because of something as arbitrary as border, birthplace, or paperwork. Prior to joining NJAIJ, Torres served for over seven years leading immigrants rights and policy advocacy work in NYC, with a focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Fred Tsao is the Senior Policy Counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In this position, he provides technical support, trainings, and presentations on immigration-related topics to service providers, immigrant community organizations, and others who work with immigrants. He also provides updates and analysis of changes in immigration policies and procedures to ICIRR members and allies, and assists with the coalition’s legislative advocacy efforts. A self-described “recovering attorney,” Fred practiced law at the Rockford office of Prairie State Legal Services, where he worked after receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan. He has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, and the Missouri Public Interest Research Group. A native of Chicago, Fred is the son of immigrants from China, and has had a lifelong concern with immigration issues.