It is not possible to know fully what has gone on within the offices of PASO – West Suburban Action Project in past months. Certainly it was unhappy and intense. The result, announced last week by the nonprofit’s board, is that Mony Ruiz-Velasco, the longtime executive director, has resigned, a search has begun for a replacement, and it is unstated if the office staff, which has been on strike, will return when the office eventually reopens after the pandemic is beaten back.
All that said, we offer words of support for the work of this powerful and necessary organization. We are lost in the fog of Donald Trump’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. But let’s not lose the memory of the horrors of this president’s abuse and manipulation of immigrants seeking America’s once-real opportunities.
PASO has been street-level effective in representing individuals caught up in this mean-spirited and wrong-headed political gamesmanship. And at the community level, it has done strong work in helping many near-west suburban communities come to terms with welcoming ordinances, and with defining relationships between local police departments and federal ICE agents.
And there is no denying that the leader of that effort, strong and determined, has been Mony Ruiz-Velasco, an Oak Park attorney and clearly a human rights activist. She deserves our thanks for her leadership.