“I’m doing this because I have a child. I want to be able to look my child in eye,” Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts wrote on Twitter last week. “I’m drawing my line in the sand here. Cooperation with this regime is not acceptable.”
Breaking families apart was not something Dyrdahl-Roberts, a former legal secretary for the Montana Department of Labor (DOL), signed up to do ― so he quit. Though he has been with the state DOL since 2011, they recently told him that he would be helping to process subpoena requests from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which he believed would be used to “hunt down & deport undocumented workers.”
The ICE subpoenas requested “all UI-5(s) and workman’s compensation coverage reports” from employers and would include worker’s complete names, Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Social Security number.
“This isn’t an easy decision as it puts me in a delicate financial position. I’ve got a toddler, an underemployed wife in grad school and two cats,” Dyrdahl-Roberts said about taking a moral stance. With only $900 in his checking account, quitting also made him ineligible for unemployment insurance.
After posting on Twitter to explain why he quit his job, Dyrdahl-Roberts received overwhelming support from thousands of new Twitter followers thanking him for “standing up for what’s right.” A GoFundMe account, “Said No To ICE,” was created by a cyclist who was fired from her government contracting job after flipping off Donald Trump’s motorcade, and Dyrdahl-Roberts received an outpouring of donations.
Montana gets a new folk hero
“You are a hero of the resistance and a beacon of common decency,” tweeted a supporter, among many messages extolling Dyrdahl-Roberts’decency and integrity.
Dyrdahl-Roberts’ story has made him into a folk hero, with local supporters posting a song about his moral courage:
. . . Now, Jordon, he saw families torn apart. He saw the immigrants’ plight. And the government ordered subpoena. Justice and an eagle don’t make it right. He said, ‘What are we teaching our children? You can’t treat these people like sh**!’ So Jordon strapped on his hat and in five seconds flat, he held onto his conscience and quit.
. . . Now here’s what separates heroes from common folks like you and I. The man they called Jordon, he turned on his heels, and let his income run dry. He walked out of his office. He walked out of his job. The man they call Jordon. He wasn’t afraid. And he quit and stood up for what’s right!
He said ‘I won’t sell out, I won’t work for you no more. He stood up to ‘The Man” and he gave him what for. His story is out there and it’s worth exploring. The Hero of Helena! The man they call Jordon.
As Dyrdahl-Roberts told the Washington Post, his “uniquely dysfunctional childhood” made him sympathetic to families because he didn’t grow up with a “traditional” one. He said his mother was abusive and neglectful, and he and his brother were often taken care of by a boyfriend who also abused them. “I understand what it’s like to be kicked in the teeth by life,” Dyrdahl-Roberts said, explaining his refusal to participate in (as the Washington Post said) kicking someone else in the teeth.
The Trump Administration has, in the last year, stepped up deportations of immigrants who have done nothing other than be in the U.S. without papers. As a recent Pew Research report noted, ICE arrested 30% more immigrants in fiscal year 2017 than in the previous fiscal year, and picked up 30% more immigrants without any criminal history. The Administration also recently indicated that it was stepping up workplace raids, and launched a sweeping crackdown of 7-Eleven stores in January.
In Montana, a father of two who has lived in the U.S. for twenty years and has no criminal history now faces deportation; he was originally picked up during a traffic stop in 2013 and allegedly raped while in detention. He settled with the county in 2016 but ultimately had his petition to stay with his family rejected.