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Kenneth Rigmaiden, president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and MTD Executive Board Member, is urging trade unionists and allies to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday, July 12, to release two IUPAT members who were detained while reporting to their California jobs two months ago.

Brothers Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nunez showed up for their assignment as they had for years. On May 3, it was a construction job at a hospital located on Travis Air Force Base where they showed their California driver’s licenses and U.S.-issued individual taxpayer number at the entrance. Military authorities ran the numbers and called ICE, which has held the two at separate centers – away from their families – ever since.

IUPAT listed the number to call as 844-526-8492 and refer to case A#079-220-673 (Nunez) and A#079-163-283 (Mejia) when making the request.

In calling for the day of action, Rigmaiden stated, “These two union members were only detained because they showed up for work. We will not allow the act of showing up to work be criminalized.

“We will continue to stand by our union brothers Hugo and Rodrigo, the same way we have stood by other union members before them: be it when they have been exploited by an employer on the job or while experiencing extreme hardship of any kind,” added the IUPAT president.

Both men are from Mexico, are married and have three children each. Both are active in their respective northern California communities. Both had been apprehended in 2001 at the U.S. border, received expedited removal orders and deported. ICE is using the 2001 actions to hold both men. Nunez has lived in the U.S. since 1998, while Mejia came to America to live in 2001.

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