He was interviewed in the morning on ¡Que buena! radio station, 1010am, based in Dora, Alabama, and by Latino newspaper in the afternoon. Latino is a Spanish-language newsweekly that has statewide circulation.
In the afternoon, Calero joined a picket line of more than 100 called to protest Washington’s war against Iraq. Supporters of Calero have received a warm reception at antiwar protests held here in recent weeks, and have gathered many dozens of signatures on petitions supporting his anti-deportation fight.
That evening he spoke about his case and the growing attacks on immigrant workers at a meeting held at the Southside Baptist Church. The event was sponsored by supporters of the Róger Calero Defense Committee and the Greater Birmingham Ministries Economic Justice Work Group.
Calero, 34, is also a staff writer for the Militant. A native of Nicaragua, he has lived in the United States since 1985 and has been a permanent resident for 13 years. On December 3 of last year he was stopped by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents upon his return home from reporting trips to Cuba and Mexico.
The immigration cops seized Calero at Houston Intercontinental Airport. They told him he was denied entry into the United States, and carted him off to an immigration jail. He was released from jail 10 days later as the result of a public protest campaign, but he continues to face exclusion from the United States.
Immigration officials began deportation proceedings against Calero based on a 1988 plea-bargain conviction, when he was a high school student in Los Angeles, for selling an ounce of marijuana to an undercover cop. The INS waived this conviction when it approved his application for residency in 1990, and again when it renewed Calero’s status a decade later.
An international campaign to pressure authorities to drop deportation proceedings against Calero has won support from unionists, farmers, students, immigrant rights activists, and others. For example, Bill Pearson, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 at Dakota Premium Foods in South St. Paul, Minnesota, spoke out on behalf of Calero on a two-day tour of Iowa and Nebraska March 19-–20.
Faced with vigorous, ongoing protests against its deportation efforts, the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement (the recently re-organized INS) did not contest Calero’s motion to move his hearing from Houston to Newark, New Jersey, where he lives. The immigration cops also moved the date of his deportation hearing from March 25 to September 10.
Calero continues his work writing for Perspectiva Mundial and the Militant. The Róger Calero Defense Committee is planning more speaking engagements for him on his national tour. It is also appealing to supporters around the world to contribute funds towards meeting the goal of $50,000 for legal and other expenses. About $31,000 has been raised to date. For more information on how you can help, see box below.
For more information or to send a contribution:
Róger Calero Defense Committee, c/o PRDF, Box 761, Church St. Station, New York, NY 10007; phone/ fax, (212)563-0585. On the web: www.calerodefense.org
Send messages demanding exclusion moves against Calero be dropped to: Demetrios Georgakopolous, Director, Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Fax messages to: (973) 645-3074; or mail to: 970 Broad St., Newark, NJ 07102. Copies should be sent to the Róger Calero Defense Committee.