Undocumented, Unapologetic, Unafraid: Updates on Wednesday’s 2/15 Reporting of Immigration Agency Activities

On February 15th 2017, around 3 pm MA staff posted Facebook live videos of our encounter with an Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent in North Portland. This video received widespread attention and feedback. In this video we referred to CBP activities as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities. We are issuing a statement to provide context for the video and also address some of the feedback we received. Below is our statement:

Momentum Alliance is a youth-led nonprofit whose mission is to inspire young people to realize their power individually and collectively and to mentor future social justice leaders. Momentum Alliance emerged in 2011 from the  “Papers” Youth Crew -Portland youth who helped produce and organize the documentary film: “Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth.” From our founding to our current organizing, we have been for and by undocumented youth. We are deeply committed to advancing justice for immigrant communities. We are deeply connected to the vulnerabilities of undocumented communities. We know first hand the fear and the consequences of deportation.

On February 15th 2017 around 10am, MA staff Jaime Guzman witnessed homeland security vehicles parked along N Columbia Blvd in North Portland at Columbia Wool Scouring Mills. A few MA staff went to this location around 1 pm to check if homeland security was still present, when we drove by, the parking lot was full and had at least 3 homeland security vehicles. Around 2:45 pm, Jaime received a call from a community member stating that a friend’s brother had been stopped by ICE at the exact location where MA staff witnessed homeland security vehicles earlier in the morning. Upon receiving this news, Jaime called the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition (PIRC)’s hotline to report this incident. After that most of the MA staff decided to head to that location to investigate, document and attempt to confirm whether or not there were ICE checkpoints, raids or something else happening.

On our way, Jaime was able to receive confirmation directly from the person. Jaime learned from the person that traffic was stopped on Columbia Blvd. so that vans with people in them could pull out the parking lot. While traffic was stopped, the person was approached by an officer who asked to see his identification and social security number. When the officer turned around he saw the ICE logo on the officer’s back. He attempted to record a video of what was going on but was told not to by the officer.

Upon arriving at Columbia Wool Scouring Mills around 3 pm., we noticed that all marked homeland security vehicles were gone. MA staff approached a few vehicles in the parking lot to interview people who might have witnessed homeland security’s presence. While doing this, we discovered that one of the cars in the parking lot was driven by an uniformed officer of CBP. At this point, we made the decision to go live on Facebook in order to document and publicize the interaction and to address rumors that ICE was in the area. As seen in the Facebook live video, MA staff attempted to question the officer about why they were in the area and whether not they asked people for their social security number cards.

The officer said, “ That would not be possible”.

Jaime asked, ”Are you border patrol?”

The officer responded “Customs and Border Protection.”

Jaime then asked “What do you store here [Columbia Wool Scouring Mills]?”

The officer then drove off. Immediately afterwards, we emailed the One Coalition email list seeking confirmation for rumors about an ICE checkpoint.

We intentionally publicized our investigation and interpretations of this incident through Facebook live in order to immediately inform and mobilize vulnerable communities. If there was in fact any activity by immigration agencies, we wanted to be able to immediately organize support for those impacted.

Three of the six MA staff members that were present are directly impacted by immigration agencies; two staff can be at risk of deportation; and another staff has family members who have been and continue to be at risk of deportation. All three of these staff grew up in Portland and have been active in organizing with undocumented communities. We will continue to support and follow the lead of those within the undocumented community.

Since publicizing this encounter with CBP, we have received widespread attention and feedback. In retrospect, we recognize that some things could have been done differently. For example, we repeatedly referred to CBP vehicles/officers as ICE vehicles/agents. We understand that Customs and Border Protections (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are different agencies that work closely together. That said, the undocumented community has been targeted and negatively impacted by both agencies. This and past experiences, led us to interpret these events as potential ICE activity, e.g. a checkpoint. Although we stand by our decision to use Facebook live, we recognize that we did not have to interpret and publicize these events as potential ICE activity.

Some people are appreciative of our first-hand grassroots reporting while others have valid reservations. Those who are appreciative believe that given the extreme uncertainty of the current political climate and the intense vulnerability of undocumented communities, any first-hand reports on immigration agency activities are useful. They feel that such reports are transparent, accessible, and timely. Those who have expressed reservations of our reporting felt that we should not have referred to CBP as ICE without further confirmation. We agree. We will not make that mistake in the future. Some also feel that reporting should only be done once designated civil rights and immigrant advocacy organizations have been able to “confirm” CBP &/or ICE’s activity.

We will remain vigilant for any possible ICE activity and encourage our community to do the same. We refuse to let ICE continue terrorizing our community. We will fight back. Therefore, on February 27th we are organizing a “Coming Out of the Shadows” rally led by the undocumented community. We invite any and all people in support of the undocumented community to join us. To learn more: bit.ly/MAoutoftheshadows. To report potential ICE raids or activities in Portland, Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition (PIRC) has a 24 hour hotline: 1-888-622-1510.

MA has 3 new staff members!

We are SO excited to welcome the 3 newest additions to the MA team, Dorian, Llondyn and Fatmah!
Dorian is our new Operations & Communications Coordinator, Llondyn is our new program coordinator and Fatmah is our new collaborative coordinator! All three are transitioning being program participants last year (RJYA cohort and YEA! cohort) to staff and we could not be happier about this progression.

Check out our staff page to learn more about these three and the rest of the MA staff!!

January What SAPpening!

We are so excited to be hosting the very FIRST What SAPpening of the year Saturday January 28th, with our special guest Tyler White! Tyler is a local high school student who runs the "I Love This Place" blog. He will be facilitating an interactive workshop titled, “Minority Life in Portland: Finding Opportunity and Identity”. During this workshop we will take a look at and examine the issues and phenomenons that have spurred community change in Portland's minority neighborhoods. The examination will incite deeper reflection within the lives of individuals, as we work collectively to find a new identity for these newly emerging neighborhoods. Participants who choose to will also have the opportunity to share their stories on Tyler's blog! 
And as usual, loads of fun will be had! Can't wait to see you there!

Deadline to register is January 27th at 10pm so don't delay!

Register for this months What SAPpening here: http://bit.ly/JanWS
You can take a look at "I Love This Place" here: http://www.ilovethisplacepdx.org/

Tyler White

Tyler White

Say Hello to MA's Newest Addition!

We are thrilled to introduce Jessie Cortijo, Momentum Alliance’s new Student Alliance Project Youth Coach. Keep reading to learn more about Jessie's journey to MA...

Jessie’s first experiences with activism were through queer organizing in middle school, prompted by near-constant harassment for her gender non-conformity. Her interest in social justice organizing broadened to include work challenging sexualized violence, militarism and capitalism, among numerous other causes. In college, Jessie studied anthropology, focusing on multicultural queer studies and the connections between colonialism, community development and social movements, further deepening her belief that successful organizing needs to be led by the individuals and communities most impacted by injustice. She has professional experiences in education, disability support work, and most recently worked supporting youth transitioning out of homelessness. Her introduction to Momentum Alliance came as a member of the Reproductive Justice Youth Advocates cohort, and she is excited to now be Youth Coach for the Student Alliance Project. Jessie loves anything related to cycling, gaming, punk rock, heavy metal, and cute animals. 

Momentum Convention 2016: We Feel the Love!

On August 27th, Momentum Alliance hosted its second annual Momentum Convention: An Unconventional Celebration of Equity at Portland State University. We celebrated hope, resiliency, joy and the inspiring work of our young leaders over the past year.

Momentum Alliance champions a culture of appreciation, and at the end of the night our aMAzing emcees, MA Board member Marina Barcelo and MA Young Leader Anika Becker, asked all attendees to appreciate MA, and many folks gave us ‘love notes’ at the end of the night. Here are just a few of the #MALoveNotes that continue to fill our hearts:

 “I’ve never seen such an inclusive, passionate group of people.”

“I love the world you live in and are working towards.”

“Thank you for creating a space where youth can discover and create their own power.”

“MA continues to enable me to believe that another world is indeed possible. Mad MA love!”

 “You give me hope.”

“You have changed my life.”


Thank you to those who were part of Momentum Convention 2016. Whether you attended #MAUnCon, sponsored the event, donated your time or resources, or sponsored young leader tickets, WE FEEL THE LOVE.

Share your own #MALoveNotes at facebook.com/momentumalliance or on Instagram or Twitter @getyourmomentum. It means so much that you have our back!

MA Board Retreat: New Members, Big Vision!

After two wonderful days with the Momentum Alliance Board of Directors at our annual Board retreat, we are thrilled to announce the addition of four new members:

  • Gabrielle Kornahrens
  • Lima Muse
  • Llondyn Elliot
  • Jess Thompson

Over the course of the weekend we told stories, learned from each other and envisioned a five-year strategic plan. It is a pleasure and an honor to work with this incredible group, and we leave you with a few quotes from the retreat:

"We are our parents' dreams realized."

"I am from making myself better by being exactly myself."

"I am from myself as a home."

I am from my grandmother wanting me to be myself eve though she was ashamed to be herself."

"I do not apologize for grieving."

The MA Board and staff send "all the love" to you!

The MA Board and staff send "all the love" to you!