The Examiner

Community Rallies for Deported Temple Custodian

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Armando Rojas

By Sydney Stoller 

Chants of “bring Armando home, bring Armando home” resonated across the Bet Torah parking lot in Mount Kisco Tuesday night where hundreds of citizens, congregants and friends of Armando Rojas gathered with signs and candles to protest his deportation. Reverend Paul Alcorn of Bedford Presbyterian Church and Rabbi Aaron Brusso of Bet Torah opened the rally with a prayer and moment of silence. 

Rojas had worked at Bet Torah, a local Conservative synagogue, as a custodian for 20 years, and has lived in the United States for 30. Eight months ago he was arrested at night and taken from his wife Sylvia and two sons without warning and was deported to Mexico without a wallet, phone or identification of any kind. Now, he is being held in a detention center in upstate New York, and his last appeal to stay in the United States is coming as soon as this week. Supporters of Rojas have banded together to try to prove his value as a community member to the judges determining his fate.

Tuesday’s night’s rally.

Sons Armando Rojas Jr., 26, and Ulises, 15, attended the event and spoke, as did Carola Bracco, executive director of the Mount Kisco-based Neighbor’s Link, a non-profit organization that advocates for immigrants. Rojas Jr. noted how the rally displayed “how many lives my dad has touched, for all of these people to be here and have his back.”

“My immediate reaction was, I was sad and started crying, it was all about emotions at the beginning it was emotional, very emotionally unescapable,” Rojas Jr. also explained. “We’re trying to get my dad back, and we are going to find until the end because he deserves to be here. As people put it out there before, not everybody is bad in the world.”

Attendees were encouraged to write letters to members of Congress and judges as well as sign petitions vouching for Rojas’ character. Concerned citizens of many stripes, from local political figures to Hebrew school students, stood on the steps of the temple to show their support.

“I think that in so many ways, the immigration system is broken in our country, and when people who have been here for 30 years and have a family and have been working end up in situations like that, that’s wrong,” Reverend Acorn said. “The only way that people can react to that is to stand up and say no I don’t think it’s right I think that there should be other ways of treating people especially someone who is very much a part of the community.”

The community’s impassioned support for his father was not lost on Rojas Jr.

“It means a lot because it shows that that’s how many people love my dad, and that’s how many lives my dad has touched, for all of these people to be here and have his back,” he concluded.

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