Community members gather to protest detainment of local activist

May 21, 2019 /

Advocates gathered in front of the Mesa Verde Detention Facility Friday, protesting the detainment of Bakersfield College student Jose Bello.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Bello Wednesday — just two days after speaking against current immigration policies at the Truth Act Forum. He was arrested outside his home when he was alone, friend and BC professor Octavio Barajas said at the protest.

“For many of us, this is not a coincidence,” Barajas said. “We are very suspicious about what is really going on.”

“Many of us who were present Monday night at the Truth Act Forum saw how the community came together to denounce the violations of the practices of the sheriff,” Barajas said. “We also know brother Jose was with us that night as well, and he spoke and shared a powerful poem that day.”

Barajas said Friday ICE has yet to release an official statement as to why Bello was detained.

However, a man named Jose Bello who shares the same birth year pled no contest to driving under the influence on April 11, according to the Kern County Superior Court.

Barajas told those attending the protest Bello is a positive influence on the community.

“This is someone who is doing things,” he said. “He’s productive. He’s positive. He’s doing things in our community.”

Bello is a student leader in different BC organizations, such as MECHA and Project Conexiones, and volunteers with foster youth, according to Barajas.

“He’s someone who’s actively involved,” Barajas said.

Bello was first detained last year with his brother. His brother was deported in March, separating him from his wife and child.

“Right now the Bello-Reyes family is at risk of being further torn,” Barajas said.

Bello, too, has a one-year-old son, and Barajas said he hopes Bello is able to be involved in his life.

When Bello recited his poem at the forum, he said, “‘We will never be apart chiquito,’ is what I promised my son.”

Bello’s poem focused on injustices in detainment policies, frustrations with Trump Administration policies toward immigrants and the separation of families.

Barajas said Friday’s gathering is the first step to fight for Bello’s freedom and to ensure Kern County is following the Truth Act.

“(Jose’s) struggle is representative of a larger fight right now in the United States,” Barajas said.

“We need to be very cautious and pay close attention to what is happening with him and the 399 other detainees inside this facility,” Barajas said. “Because there are some very problematic things that have been reported to the public.”

Bryana Lozoya

Bryana Lozoya is a youth reporter for South Kern Sol. Lozoya is student at Bakersfield College and writes for The Renegade Rip.