Co-Founder of Organized Communities Against Deportations

Unemployed Workers United, Organized Communities Against Deportations

Rey Wences (pronouns: they/them) was born in Mexico City and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Rey grew up undocumented and became involved in community organizing after graduating high school. In 2009, they co-founded the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), an undocumented-led organization in Chicago that spearheaded the campaign to “Come Out of the Shadows” the following year. By 2013, Rey and other local organizers created Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) a community organization focused on campaigns against the deportations, immigrant detention and criminalization of immigrant communities in Illinois. During their time as campaign organizer with OCAD between 2018-2020, Rey coordinated a coalition of grassroots organizations and led the campaigns to Erase the Gang Database in Cook County and the City of Chicago––in 2019 the coalition was successful in pushing the Sheriff to decommission the county’s gang database.

Today, Rey leans on 10 years of experience in grassroots organizing, direct action training and executing communications strategies with communities in places like Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix and Louisiana, against the criminalization of Black and Brown communities. Rey is the Communications Director of Unemployed Workers United. Throughout the day Rey likes to enjoy a good cup of coffee and finds inspiration in the teachings of Ella Baker and grassroots organizers in Chicago and beyond.

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