In order to hold the opposition accountable, we must hold ourselves, and our immigrants rights leaders, accountable for their problematic actions.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this statement, in the middle of what seems to be a strenuous time in our community, however, if we are to fight the Trump administration, and his supporters, we must be able to look at ourselves with transparency. We have failed.
Ivan Ceja, Co-founder of UndocuMedia has failed in upholding communication with organizers and volunteers, has failed to be transparent with staff and board, and is not able to hold himself accountable for previous harmful actions.
On January 2016 I was approached by Justino Mora and Ivan Ceja, Co-Founders of UndocuMedia, to join their organization due to my work on UndocuTravelers. I accepted the offer, because I admired their work in the community. A few months later, I was emailed a Non-Disclosure Agreement by Ivan Ceja on April 8th, 2016, rendering me an official addition to the organization.
My role as a team member of Undocumedia was to help assist others with the legalities surrounding the process of obtaining Advance Parole. I assisted in the creation of logistics, petitions, liability forms, and helped to maintain community engagement by responding to incoming Facebook messages and comments on the Undocumedia Facebook page.
Late October 2016: I requested a meeting with the Co-Founders in order to discuss work streams, but Justino Mora was unable to attend. At that time I had an amicable relationship with Ivan, our meeting prompted me to post a picture on my Instagram account of him with the caption, “with my friend.” Ceja had one alcoholic beverage during this meeting. During the ride home, he asked me “what would you do if I kiss you?” I was taken aback, but decided to blame his inappropriate question on his decision to drink during our meeting. I really did not want to think ill of my new friend, I responded to his question with blunt humor, “I would slap you.”
November 9th, 2016: There was a protest against the Trump administration, that night, I received a text from Ivan Ceja dismissing me from my work at UndocuMedia. The dismissal was unforeseen and given without proper explanation or approval from Justino Mora.
I demanded the reason for the abrupt dismissal, Ivan would only share that I was removed because he did not believe I was a fit for the Undocumedia team. After more prodding, Ivan called me and revealed the true reason for my dismissal was because his then fiancee, did not “like me” and was jealous of the picture I posted on Instagram in October 2016.
I was outraged and hurt, but when Ivan confessed to having issues in his relationship with his girlfriend, I was compelled to be forgiving and understanding to a person I believed to be a friend. During that ordeal, Ivan Ceja asked me to draft a series of text messages, following a script that he wrote, to send him so he could share to his girlfriend and show her that I was “sorry” for posting his picture on Instagram. I was distraught, but I decided to comply because after I listened to his confession I felt compelled to ease the pain of my friend. I offered Ivan advice for his issues and later that night, he allowed me to continue working in UndocuMedia.
January 2017: Ivan Ceja, removed me from the Undocumedia team again without any explanation. This time when I asked him for justification, he chose to ignore me. About a week passed and I was then reinstated in my role. Ivan confessed that his relationship issues persisted and my removal was prompted by the jealousy of his then fiancee. I believed that his confession was completely unprofessional and embarrassing to me as representative of Undocumedia, however I chose not to act because of my respect for him as a community member, and hoped he would eventually sort through his issues.
February 2017: After our previous confrontations, Ivan Ceja and I weren’t in the best of terms. In order to avoid further conflict, I told Justino Mora that I wanted to be removed from the platform of my own accord, but Justino convinced me to remain in my role because of the important work we were completing.
On February 2017, Ivan Ceja removed a post from UndocuMedia featuring me and Justino Mora from a Telemundo event, under the premise that I was not officially part of UndocuMedia, despite signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement on April 8th, 2016.
March 2017: I told Justino and Ivan Ceja that my younger brother was going to be deported to Mexico and that I needed the support of Undocumedia.
April 15th 2017: I reminded Justino Mora and Ivan Ceja of my brother’s deportation which was scheduled later that day. Ivan Ceja, approximately three hours after my reminder, removed me from the platform, once again without explanation.
Upset, I texted Justino Mora and demanded an explanation of my removal, and expressed my disappointment at their behavior on the day of my brother’s deportation. I needed the support of my colleagues as a community member.
Justino Mora confided in me that he was not aware of the previous issues I had with Ivan. I shared everything to Justino, starting from October 2016.
May 2017: I requested a private accountability meeting with Justino Mora and Ivan Ceja regarding my role in the organization and to discuss the personal issues and personal attacks (Ivan Ceja claimed that my work was unimportant and unnecessary).
Ivan postponed the private meeting with me regarding our problems three different times. Frustrated I expressed to Justino that this accountability meeting was very important and needed to happen as soon as possible. Ivan remained distant and did not want to include Justino in the planning of another meeting.
June 2017: Justino Mora invited me to be the Media coordinator and legal liaison of UndocuHacks as a member of UndocuMedia.
July 2017: Ivan Ceja continued to postpone any accountability meetings.
August 2017: I decided that I would work out the issues with Ivan without Justino. I continued to believe Ivan Ceja’s behavior to me were validated by his relationship issues and mental anguish from work. We agreed on discussing our issues in a meeting. This meeting never occurred.
Late August 2017: Ivan went to my home to talk about the situation. I asked for an honest explanation for his toxic behavior and demanded an apology. He apologized and we agreed on being friends once more, however, our friendship became awkward because he would insist on gossiping about Justino Mora and believed Justino had a “plot” to steal UndocuMedia.
While at my home, Ivan Ceja once again asked me what would I do if he kissed me. I told him the same blunt response I did several months ago, that I would slap him. He asked me that same question twice that night, making me very uncomfortable since we were alone in my home. I texted Justino Mora and expressed that I was uncomfortable being with Ivan alone and requested his presence, but he wasn’t able to join us. After everything that had happened that night, I decided that the best decision, considering the political climate, was to be at peace with Ivan Ceja no matter how uncomfortable he would make me feel.
September 2017: DACA was rescinded and Ivan Ceja and I worked together on petitions, and explanations regarding the subject, we attended events together and we seemed to be on good terms.
Mid September 2017: I expressed my disagreement with an interview with Tucker Carlson attended by Ivan. That disagreement led Ivan to believe that I was gossiping about the organization with other leaders.
September 19th 2017: Mexico earthquake. I organized a supply caravan and invited Justino Mora to help. We blasted the relief on UndocuMedia’s platform. I did not notify Ivan Ceja, since I was under the impression that Justino Mora was a Co-Founder and free to make decisions regarding use of the platform on his own. Ivan Ceja was not happy with our social blasts.
September 27th, 2017: I confronted Ivan Ceja and Pablo Lopez on the structure of UndocuMedia and the lack of transparency, communication and accountability. I expressed that I no longer wanted any association with UndocuMedia. Ivan Ceja made it clear that his role at Undocumedia is Executive Director and Justino Mora was his subordinate — meaning only Ivan was able to have free range of the social platforms. Ivan Ceja accused me of using UndocuMedia for my image and personal gain.
October 20th, 2017: Adelanto Detention Center. Nine people, incarcerated in Adelanto Detention Center went on strike and there was a concert headlined by R&B singer Miguel to highlight human rights abuse.
I attended the event with Justino Mora, he suggested going Live on Instagram and sharethe story of my brother who was deported from the Adelanto Detention Center.
My brother was detained in Adelanto from November 2016 to April 2017 where he suffered mental and physical abuse, he was put into solitary confinement for standing up against abuse towards the Haitian community. He chose voluntary departure on April 2017 because he was sure he was going to kill himself after watching 4 men commit suicide in a timespan of less than one month.
Ivan Ceja removed the Live Story Justino and I created on the UndocuMedia Instagram platform regarding my brother’s ordeal. I noticed this and asked Justino Mora if he removed the segment, he denied it. Justino asked Ivan if he had removed it from the platform and explained the relevance of the story to the event. Ivan Ceja said that he had removed my little brother’s story because I was no longer a part of Undocumedia team. When I confronted Ivan Ceja about the removal of my brother’s story, he reminded me that I had wanted nothing to do with UndocuMedia as a team member and in the Live Story Justino had said that he was with a team member, thus why the Live Story was removed. I was hurt and upset by the pettiness of Ivan’s action.
My decision to abandon my “position” in UndocuMedia was irrelevant to the story of my younger brother. UndocuMedia caters itself as a platform that uplifts immigrant stories, and yet, due to personal issues, the story of my brother was deemed unimportant by Executive Director, Ivan Ceja.
November 2017: Justino and I insisted on having an accountability meeting, and after a year of constant issues and postpones we finally met with the active members of UndocuMedia — Francisco Barragan, Justino Mora, Ivan Ceja and Pablo Lopez. We addressed many issues including Ivan’s sexual advances which prompted Pablo Lopez, the Executive Producer, to then ask me if Ivan’s advances were “rapey” and whether or not “he persisted?” Pablo decided that if the advances were not threatening that I should forget the incident happened. We discussed Adelanto Detention Center and the erasure of the Live Story, Francisco offered the solution to send someone to Mexico to record my brother’s story, I declined this effort because I did not want Pablo Lopez near my family. The accountability meeting was intense, humiliating and unproductive.
I requested the following demand in exchange for the mistreatment I had received:
Public apology for my brother’s and my own humiliation and mistreatment. Those demands were never met. I requested another meeting. Justino notified the team, but that request was never fulfilled.
Present time: To this day, my demands have not been met and no further accountability meetings for the mistreatment, humiliation and sexual advances I received have been set up.
Ongoing: Since April 2017, Ivan Ceja has spread rumors that I am under the “spell” of Justino Mora and I am being manipulated by him. He has expressed to various people that I am trying to “smear him” with false statements, said that I was only using UndocuMedia to advance my image, and that I only show up to events that are convenient for me.
LIST OF DEMANDS
Public apology for:
- The removal of my brother’s story from the UndocuMedia platform.
- Allowing personal life to affect professional space.
- For failing to understand the meaning of “No” and being sexist, manipulative, abusive, exploitative, ungrateful, and controlling about my role in the organization.
- The sexist comments and attempting to lower the weight of his advances during the only accountability meeting.
Ivan Ceja claims to be an intersectional activist for feminism and immigrant rights and while he attempts to hold the community and government accountable he does not practice what he preaches. I have endured slander, humiliation and anxiety — all caused by Ivan Ceja’s inability to hold himself accountable for his mistreatment of women and volunteers. It is important to note that I was the only woman in the team, and that all other female members have abruptly quit from the organization with no explanation.
He made unwanted sexual advances despite my repeated refusals. He is quick to silence those who disagree with him, removing my brother’s story and acting with cruelty because of his own personal issues. If Ivan will not hold himself accountable, then I will. I will not allow him to silence me — not again.