Celebrated Undocumented Activist, Protagonist of Infiltrators Film, Faces Deportation

By Daniela Rivero

Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra’s 2019 documentary The Infiltrators tells the story of two young undocumented activists who successfully infiltrated an ICE detention center in Broward County, Florida in 2012 and organized from within to help get people released. Through interviews and re-enacted scenes, The Infiltrators follows Marco Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez as they turn themselves in to U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Once they are placed in the facility, they begin gathering information for detainees that is helpful for their deportation cases. After six months, Martinez and Saavedra are discovered and kicked out of the facility, but not before working on over 150 campaigns, stopping several deportations, and getting around 120 people released.

Despite their undocumented status, the activists from the National Immigration Youth Alliance choose to resist openly, giving real meaning to the slogan of their movement, “Undocumented and Unafraid!” Saavedra and Martinez knew that by engaging in direct action to keep people from being deported, they were risking deportation themselves.

In the film, Saavedra asks, “What would you want people to do for those you love?” While being interviewed for DemocracyNow! he tells journalist Amy Goodman, “We would go to all lengths and any lengths to help our families.”

Saavedra makes asylum claim

On November 7, a crowd gathered in New York City to support Saavedra as he went into his final asylum hearing, where he argued that being sent back to Mexico would endanger his life. His case is significant because he sites his activism for migrant and undocumented rights movements as a reason why his life would be threatened if he were deported.

Living in the U.S. since age 3, Saveedra works at La Morada in the Bronx, a restaurant run by his family that serves Oaxacan cuisine. La Morada has opened its doors as a welcoming space for immigrants. He continues his involvement in the immigrants rights movement, and says that were he to be deported to Mexico, he would advocate for the rights and protection of Central American migrants there as well. The judge in Saavedra’s case will make a ruling by January 17, 2020.

An update to this story will be available after that date at cuslar.org/marco.

Daniela Rivero is a third year student at Ithaca College. She studies Social Movements, Latin American studies, and Art.

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