Students rallied on Friday in support of Melecio Andazola Morales, father of Viviana Andazola Marquez ’18, in response to the news of his impending deportation.

According to an online petition calling for Andazola Morales to be released from detention, Andazola Marquez petitioned for her father, who crossed the border into the United States in 1998, to obtain permanent stay in the country earlier this year. Upon arriving at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in Denver on Thursday afternoon, Andazola Morales was separated from his daughter and lawyer and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Since then, a GoFundMe page shared on social media asking for donations to support the family of Andazola Morales has raised more than $50,000. The petition calling for Andazola Morales’ release from detention, which student leaders created Friday afternoon, had over 3,900 signatures as of 9:20 p.m. Friday.

Late Thursday night and Friday morning, friends of Andazola Marquez and student leaders of La Casa Cultural flooded club email panlists, group chats and social media with invitations to a phone-banking event at La Casa to persuade politicians and ICE officials to intervene. Roughly 400 students attended the event throughout Friday, even as advocacy efforts adapted to the news that Colorado has issued an order of deportation.

“A lot of what was done in the morning was trying to find more numbers that would be productive to call,” said Alejandra Trujillo-Elizalde ’19, a friend of Andazola Marquez. “But it is also a matter of leaving a great amount of messages for politicians to show that there are people keeping their eyes on this.”

Fernando Rojas ’19, another friend of Andazola Marquez, said that “Viviana was left in the dark about a lot of things” throughout the arrest and that a primary objective of the phone banking was also to shed light on the situation.

Rojas added that, since Thursday, he and other friends have been actively providing advice to Andazola Marquez regarding her situation. Students working out of La Casa have already received input for handling deportation cases from multiple professors and faculty at Yale, including the Head of Ezra Stiles College Stephen Pitti, Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race and Migration Alicia Camacho.

Friends of Andazola Marquez sent a letter Friday afternoon to University President Peter Salovey explaining that, in keeping with Salovey’s public stances in defense of immigrants, they “expect and need” his support.

Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor told the News that “we want to support the student” in question, Andazola Marquez,  and that the University hopes to help “in seeking clarity and justice in the situation.”

According to Rojas and Trujillo-Elizalde, deportations generally occur at 9 a.m. on Fridays, which in turn required the phone bank to begin early in the day.

Although students involved in the advocacy were concerned that Andazola Morales could be deported as soon as Friday, the future remains unclear.

“I thought it was just us who didn’t know what to expect, but talking to lawyers and people who are supposed to know about these things, they just say that things have been changing so much recently that nobody really knows how this works anymore,” Rojas said. “It’s dangerous to try and quantify things by outcomes.”

Because the current U.S. immigration system is so unpredictable, Trujillo-Elizalde explained, allies of Andazola Morales will move forward on a day-by-day basis. Attempting to prevent a deportation at this point “does not seem too promising,” Trujillo-Elizalde added.

Still, she and Rojas said, the current objective is to push back Andazola Morales’ deportation date, giving his lawyer time to find a way to prevent him from having to leave the country.

A press release provided to the News by the students involved in the advocacy effort emphasized Andazola Morales’ good character, stating that he has no criminal record, is a father of four U.S. citizens and has worked in construction in the U.S. for almost 20 years.

Britton O’Daly |