Young Latino college activists belonging to Northern Virginia in the Hispanic-heavy South Arlington district are demanding the Democratic state legislator, Alfonso H. Lopez, be stripped of his position. They also want him to apologize publically and use the money he was given to help undocumented detainees.
It recently came to light that Lopez got paid large amounts of money from 2012-2016 by Immigration Centers of America (ICA) for his support. The group of activists, which calls itself “La Colectiva,” find the resources that U.S.-born and immigrant-raised, Lopez, received, as a sign of having “betrayed and backstabbed” the immigrant community.
Lopez is a lawyer and a partner in two consulting firms. He is usually open to the media but has declined to comment on his work for the ICA Farmville center.
He states that he always correctly files financial disclosures and that he’s proud of his heritage. Lopez calls himself “an open, honest and a fierce advocate” for the Latino community.
Among other things, Lopez has been praised by the president of the Virginia Latino Leaders Council for expanding in-state tuition for immigrants and helping create a trust fund for affordable housing. But living in an era which spurred is focused on cracking down on undocumented immigrants, ‘La Colectiva’s’ concerns are justified.
The strength of progressive groups in Virginia has seen a considerable growth in the past years, turning more than a dozen Republican House seats into Democrats last month. Activists are well-aware of their power obtained by face to face conversations, phone calls, and social media presence.
“We gave you our support, and we go around canvassing for you, and you give us your word that our community is safe. You’re going to be held accountable,” the group said about Lopez.
Activists disrupted Lopez’s election party and victory party for Governor-elect Ralph Northam (D) last month. Days later, confronting Lopez in an Arlington parking lot while he was with his son, they demanded he apologizes and admits to profiting from immigration detention centers.
A Facebook video captured the moment, which has Lopez frustratingly answering how harassing him won’t work. “You guys don’t want any borders. You don’t want any detention. We have international treaties – We’ve had conversations about this,” said Lopez. “If you’re going to do this, do it properly, in a meeting… Last time you did this, you did it in front of my little boy, my little 10-year-old boy.”
Other lawyers, as well as established Latino and Democratic leaders, express support for Lopez, believing he is getting falsely convicted, as he usually sides with minority lawmakers in the General Assembly. Some think he is bound to an attorney-client privilege or nondisclosure agreement.
This article was inspired by THE WASHINGTON POST // Veteran Latino Lawmaker Criticized For Work With Immigrant Detention Center