Support from the local community and beyond has poured in for New Paltz residents Joel and Jessica Guerrero following ICE’s detainment of Joel on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
A GoFundMe page, a Change.org petition and posters reading “Bring Joel Home” have been widespread signs of solidarity throughout town just two weeks after the incident.
The GoFundMe page entitled “Support Jessica Guerrero” started circulating on social media shortly after news broke. In one week, nearly 400 donations were made, far surpassing the goal of $15,000. Donations ranged from $5 to 200 and totaled $16,165 before the page stopped accepting donations on Saturday, March 11.
Contributions came in from across the country and the page received over 2,000 shares on social media. The page asked for contributions to Jessica, who is six months pregnant, for “rent, food and other daily expenses as she deals with the loss of income from her husband being detained.” It also explained that she and Joel are the caretakers of their 15-year-old nephew, whose mother is too ill to take care of him.
A message from Jessica on the page read:
Thank you so much for all of the support and love that all of you have shown through this difficult time. We appreciate it more than we can express.
New Paltz resident Richard Heyl de Ortiz said that while he does not know the couple personally, he gladly donated to Jessica and spoke out about their situation.
“This is a man who has come here and made a life for himself, has a family here, and for him to be detained for something that occurred over 10 years ago and for which he corrected immediately is absurd,” he said. “And it’s occurring in a community which was founded by immigrants and were fleeing persecution themselves.”
Rich Gottlieb, co-owner of Rock & Snow on Main Street, suggested creating posters for businesses to hang in support of Joel. This quickly became a reality, as a local artist and print shop offered their services free of charge for the “Bring Joel Home” posters that now occupy the windows of at least 10 local shops.
“I took them around and brought them to businesses in town,” Gottlieb said. “But it was really just neighbors and people coming together. [Doing] right starts at home and it takes a voice of people sharing similar concerns and wanting proper solutions.”
Gottlieb has also written a letter to the editor of The New Paltz Times encouraging more businesses to display the poster.
The next step for supporters is the Change.org petition “Please Stand With Joel & Jessica Guerrero,” which reads:
Please show your support for Joel and Jessica by signing and sharing this petition to ICE Field Office Director Decker asking him to release Joel while he works to remain in the country with his family.
So far, the petition has received 660 online signatures.