An undocumented immigrant is no longer in ICE’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody after two NFL players and other organizations paid his bail.
Jose Bello, 22, had been detained in ICE’s detention center for the last three months, telling KTLA, “I could see my whole future going out the window.”
Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins and Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints, the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund, and the National Bail Fund Network all contributed to his $50,000 bail.
Lee Wang, an employee at New York Immigrant Freedom Fund, told KERO when the athletes heard about Bello’s case, they wanted to help.
“They were just so outraged by what happened, to have a father and activist targeted for daring to speak his mind and challenging what are just outright xenophobic immigration policies,” Wang said.
Davis even tweeted about the incident.
For 87 days we kept a man from his freedom & family for reciting a poem. Yesterday he was able to post bail. This dehumanizing, psychological torture needs to stop. And we can stop it. Listen to Jose’s poem #DearAmerica https://t.co/FOAbS2zRXg https://t.co/b0c47lEk6s— Demario Davis #56 (@demario__davis) August 13, 2019
Norman also addressed Bello’s story.
#DearAmerica, We’ve witnessed a lot these past few years. Yesterday was another example of that, where I saw the price tag on freedom. When I helped to post a $50,000 bond for a young man detained 87 days for exercising his 1st Amendment right of free speech... pic.twitter.com/uffYiES86S— *Joshua R. Norman (@J_No24) August 14, 2019
Both Norman and Davis are members of the Players Coalition, an organization formed by former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Philadelphia Eagles star Malcom Jenkins in 2017. The purpose of the group is to seek social justice for racial equality.
The Bakersfield College student was placed into the Mesa Verde ICE Detention Center after he was arrested in his home on May 15. He was detained only 36 hours after reciting a poem he wrote, “Dear America,” during a Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting.
“We demand our respect. We want our dignity back. Our roots run deep in this country, now that's a true fact,” his poem read. “I speak for the victims that pay for this scam: Vietnamese, Jamaican, African, Cambodian, Mexican, Salvadoran, on and on, together we stand.”
Stephanie Padilla, Bello’s attorney, believed her client was targeted by ICE in retaliation because his speech challenged ICE’s immigration policies.
At the time of his arrest, Bello worked as a farmer, making $20,000 a year. Bello, father of one, has been living in the United States after arriving from Mexico at 3 years old.
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images and Grant Halverson/Getty Images