Michigander Testifies on Capitol Hill about Impact of Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act

Michigan United member and MS patient Ann Serafin of Ferndale shares her family’s care story

Michigan United member Ann Serafin joined with members of the national coalition “Caring Across Generations” in a special Senate hearing about why proposed changes and cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act would hurt their lives, and the lives of millions of Americans. The forum was organized by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

For many seniors, middle-class families, young adults, and people with disabilities, these three foundational programs are integral to their health care. Even at their current levels, these programs are not strong enough for the growing senior population, or Elder Boom. Now, as Congress threatens to cut these vital lifelines, Caring Across Generations members and many other Americans who benefit from these programs are coming together to urge Congress to make our care system stronger, not weaker.

Ann Serafin, also a member of Michigan United, made the trip from Ferndale, Michigan, to explain how she was able to address her own health needs on top of managing the care of her mother who had dementia. Diagnosed with MS at age 40, Ann lives at home with her husband, who is her primary caregiver.

“Without Medicare or secondary insurance, the medication I take to keep my MS symptoms in check would cost about $75,000 a year,” she says. “Without Medicare, I would have had to decide: do I eat, or do I get my meds?”

Ann and her husband also financially supported Ann’s mother, who relied on Medicaid for her nursing home care until she passed away last year at the age of 98. “I couldn’t care for her complex care needs; I needed help for my own care,” said Ann. “Even a barebones nursing home would have been too much for us at $6,000 a month. It was only because of Medicaid that she was able to get the help she needed at the end of her life.”

Whether provided at home or in an assisted living facility, quality care can break the budgets of American families. The high costs of care, in addition to serious threats to the limited social safety net programs that support care, mean that more than ever, our caregiving families need more support, not less.

Small business owner Holly Jensen, from Cleveland Heights, OH, also understands the importance of these vital programs. She traveled to Washington to speak about how Medicaid saved her life. Untreated anxiety and mental health issues nearly destroyed her ability to run her business, as well as her connections to her family and her community.

“I had to cancel an important work trip at the last minute. I couldn’t do it. My anxiety was getting out of control, and the worse it got, the more out of control my OCD got. It was a downward spiral from there.” It wasn’t just her business that suffered under the weight of her untreated condition. She withdrew from being an active volunteer in the local arts community.

Through Medicaid, Holly was able to rebuild her business, her relationships, and her life. “This care not only saved my life, but it also gave me back my life. Thanks to Medicaid, I am becoming the professional I want to be again – and the person I want to be again. Without it, I know I would have eventually depended on emergency care, taxpayer-funded rehab, and the legal system. I would have cost taxpayers much more than the expense of my basic care now.”

Ann and Holly’s stories reflect the experience of millions of Americans who have benefited from Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. Protecting and strengthening these programs is bigger than any political fight – it is about people’s lives. We are at a moment in our country where we need to be moving forwards, not backwards. “I hope that Congress hears us, and does what the majority of us actually want them to do. The Caring Majority is greater than any political divide,” said Ms. Jensen.

“We’re Here to Stay!”

Detroit’s immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ and Communities of Color honor Dr. King with a message of defiance and unity

Hundreds of people from across Southeast Michigan gathered at UAW Local 600 Saturday afternoon to honor Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. in a show of unity across lines of color, gender, ethnicity, religion and immigration status. Michigan United joined the United Auto Workers and community based groups in a mass call to action to defend the rights of immigrants, refugees, communities of color and the members of the LGBTQ community. In addition to the King holiday, groups cited the well documented rise in hate crimes in Michigan since the presidential election as inspiration for the event.

“We have no doubt that Reverend King would be pushing us to stand with people who are under attack because of their immigration status, the color of their skin or who they love,” said Michigan United member, Reverend Samuel Johnson of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. “Mobilizations like this are crucial to show that the majority of people will not tolerate hate crimes and attacks. The fight to keep immigrant families together is connected to the fight to keep all families safe.”

The Congress of Communities, Chadsey Condon Community Association, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights worked with members of the LGBTQ community to host the event. The intersection of struggles and resistance was at the heart of the gathering.

“Some victories such as marriage equality or the Deferred action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which protects immigrants brought here as children are recent,” said Seydi Sarr, General Secretary of the Senegalese Association. “Some, such as the 1960s civil rights legislation are decades old. We stand to defend them all. We fight to keep immigrant families together here in the US, for refugee families fleeing violence to be safe here. We must defend human and civil rights won for the LGBTQ community and people of color. We can win if we see that all these struggles are connected.”

“No event, not even a presidential election will stop us from standing up and fighting for human and civil rights,” said Sergio Martinez, Michigan United board member. “As Gay man who has benefited from DACA and advances in LGBTQ rights, I refuse to go backward just as Dr. King and those who fought with him resisted the backlash against civil rights laws. Those of us fighting for justice are the majority. Making that clear with gatherings like this will push us toward victory.”

Michigan Residents Tell Rep. Trott “Don’t Take My Health Care”

Families Protest Plans to Repeal Affordable Care Act, Wreck Medicare and Medicaid

Carrying signs saying “Don’t Take My Health Care”, dozens of Michiganders rallied outside of Rep. David Trott’s office in Troy to protest an expected vote early in January to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would take health coverage away from nearly a million Michigan residents.

“I’m asking Rep. Trott not to take away the health care my family relies on every day,” said Karen Houghton of Huntington Woods.  “This isn’t just politics anymore– repealing Obamacare would strip health care away from millions of real people like my son and put us back at the mercy of private insurance corporations.”

“Taking away Obamacare will also jack up the rates of everyone with insurance, and put the insurance companies back in charge of our health care.” said Houghton who once worked as a hospital administrator.

Hear and download audio from the press conference

The demonstration, organized by Michigan United and co-sponsored by MoveOn.org, came to protest plans in Congress to cut $1 trillion from state funding for Medicaid and replace Medicare with a limited voucher for private insurance. Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has been a leader in the effort to repeal the ACA, slash federal funding to states for Medicaid and privatize Medicare.

“Congress is rushing through a plan that would take away health coverage from 30 million people across the country,” said Julia Galliker of Michigan United. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act is a first step in a campaign to slash state funding for Medicaid and turn Medicare over to Wall Street. Insurance companies would make huge profits while seniors get a skimpy voucher for private health insurance, with huge out-of-pocket costs for seniors and big limits on choice of doctors and hospitals.”

“Without the protections of the ACA, the insurance companies could discriminate against my son and others with pre-existing conditions – denying coverage for any reason and raising rates at will.  Ultimately he could be the unfortunate victim of medical bankruptcy.” Said Houghton, whose son was born with hydrocephalus, a disorder commonly known as “water on the brain”. She credits the protections of the ACA for his progress. “ I am so proud to say that our son has successfully coped with these medical challenges to become a productive member of the workforce and very recently began living independently.”

The protest is one of hundreds being held around the country as members of Congress return from Washington to their districts for the holiday recess.

“This is the beginning of a fight to protect the health care and security of every American family and we are not going to stop as long as politicians like Rep. Trott continue their plan to take away our health care.” said Galliker. “Instead of repealing the ACA, and ruining Medicare and Medicaid, lawmakers should strengthen the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid by lowering our deductibles and standing up to the health insurance and drug corporations.”

Doctors, patients speak out to protect the Affordable Care Act

Repeal threatens health care for more than million in Michigan

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but what will this mean to the more than one million people in Michigan who benefit from the program known as “Obamacare”.  Doctors and patients alike are concerned with the impact of such a precipitous loss of coverage.

“The most important costs that we should consider are human.” said Dr. Anthony Spearman who practices internal medicine at Providence-St. John in Detroit. I am scared because the protections of people with pre-existing conditions could be eliminated, leaving millions of people who need it without insurance.” Rather than jeopardizing the health care program, Spearman believes politicians should take the successful model of the Affordable Care Act and work to address its issues and expand it.

Click here to hear and download audio from the tele-press conference

More than 393,000 people in the state of Michigan are currently enrolled in the individual government-run marketplace. Another 615,462 people are currently enrolled in the Healthy Michigan plan.

One of them is Herman Starks.  He says the uproar around the issue before the President has even been inaugurated is unprecedented but expects public resistance will be too. “I want to reach out to Trump voters. We have a lot to talk about. I’m sure we’ll all be having a robust conversations over the holidays.” said Starks. “We have common ground, and we have to start our fight from that common ground. We will fight tooth and nail, and with all our strength to save access to affordable health care. And we need everyone with us.”

Act now to protect the vote!

Tell Gov. Snyder to veto suppression laws

As we learned in grade school, our democracy works best when everyone has a voice. Somehow, many of our lawmakers never learned this lesson.

During their lame duck session, our state legislature has rushed through house bills 6066, 6067 & 6068, known to many as the Voter Suppression Legislation of 2016. Supposedly these bills would prevent in-person voting fraud, despite the fact that out of a billion votes cast  since the turn of the century, there have only been 31 cases of voter fraud NATIONWIDE. On the other hand, one study found that 11% of Americans don’t have identification that would allow them to vote under the proposed legislation. And those most at risk of disenfranchisement are the most vulnerable: the poor, seniors, new voters, people of color and people with disabilities.

If lawmakers really cared about voting, they would make it easier, not harder, by allowing automatic voter registration and early voting. If they were really concerned about restoring confidence in the system, they would replace outdated balloting technology. But instead, the outgoing session is trying to rig the system for partisan political gain.

Click here to tell Gov. Snyder to veto these bills

There’s still time to stop voter suppression. Governor Snyder can do the right thing and veto these anti-democratic bills. But this won’t happen without a powerful public outcry. CLICK HERE to sign the petition to stop these voter suppression bills.  When you do, you will send an email directly to the Governor that you can personalize to tell him why protecting the right to vote is so important to you.

And just like voting, petitions work best when everyone has a chance to voice their opinion. Please forward this email to all of your friends in Michigan. Time is short, but if just two of your friends forward it on to their friends, we can build the momentum needed to protect the right for everyone in the state to vote.

 Drive home the message with a phone call

Join our virtual phone bank on Facebook. Can you call once? Mark yourself as interested. Can you call three times? Mark yourself as attending. Are you awesome and want to call six or more times? Post on the page about how awesome you are.

CLICK HERE to RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook. Let’s keep up the pressure, keep the Governor’s phones ringing and his inbox filled until we know that everyone’s right to vote has been protected.

Immigrant families at risk if Trump keeps promises

Don’t despair. Organize!

Join Michigan United and our partners as we work to resist deportations.

Michigan Sanctuary Movement 

Are you or your congregation interested in providing sanctuary for immigrants in danger of deportation? CLICK HERE  to become part of the statewide movement to protect immigrant families.

 Michigan United statewide strategy summit-December 10th

We have a lot of work to do, and we need to get organized. Please cjoin our statewide strategy summit, co-sponsored with the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center. CLICK HERE to be part of the discussion on how we can resist the deportations, support families, and develop strategies for how we can stand up for justice and dignity for all. 

Strategy Summit

Saturday, December 10
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Trinity Lutheran Church
1400 W. Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

500 show post-election unity, commit to fight injustice during Trump era

Al Jones | ajones5@mlive.comBy Al Jones
Mlive November 15, 2016

KALAMAZOO, MI – The idea of pushing past the Nov. 8 presidential election in peace and unity was popular enough to attract more than 500 people to Bronson Park on Tuesday evening.

But one week after the general election, the opportunity to rail against the election of Donald Trump and divisive feelings that many say have come with his campaign, was not to be missed by those who spoke.

“I’ve been struggling to find words to say that could inspire or offer support,” said Jay Maddock, executive director of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center. “The truth be told, I have no words of comfort to offer you. Let me get real with you. Early Wednesday morning when it became apparent that the candidate that ran a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic campaign was going to be our president-elect, I sat on my couch completely numb.”

He described Trump’s presidency as “a further assault on LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer), people of color, women, Muslim people and already marginalized groups.”

“I had one of my student volunteers give me a big hug,” Matthew Derrick, said of learning about the results of the presidential election last week.

“She hugged me and asked, ‘What’s next?'” said Derrick, who is a Western Michigan University student and Democratic party organizer who helped with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“And she asked if I’m safe,” said Derick, who is gay.

Acting as emcee of what was dubbed “Kalamazoo Against Hate,” Derrick said racism and discrimination he saw during Trump’s campaign “has been happening well before Trump.”

What to do about it?

Amid chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Hey,hey, ho, ho Trump and Pence have got to go,” he and others stressed unity.

Speakers asked people to be vigilant for and stand united against any efforts by the new administration to roll back progress that has been made to claim rights for gays, minorities, women and others.

“I want to continue to make sure that people who come to this community, to this campus, to this area, … know they’re not alone,” Derrick said. “I want to make sure they know that there are people in this community with open arms who are ready to take you in and say, ‘You know what, be proud of who you are.'”

Kendall Campbell, a community organization for Michigan United, asked people to be more aware of what’s going on and to take a bigger part in the civic process. Michigan United is a statewide organization that advocates against injustice and pushes for social and economic empowerment.

Anti-Trump rally at U-M Diag focuses on rights of immigrants

Anti-Trump rally at U-M Diag focuses on rights of immigrants

Tuesday’s protest and march was a “rally to stop Donald Trump’s attacks on immigrants, democracy and equality,” organizers from By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) said, gathering at the U-M Diag before marching down East University Avenue.

“Just be aware of what’s happening,” Campbell said, “because I think if we remain stagnant and not do anything about it, we’re just going to accept anything that they give to us. We have to be aware of what’s going on around us.”

Asked what there is to do with people’s opportunity to make themselves heard — the election — just over, the Kalamazoo resident said, “Learn from it.”

Conservative students criticize U-M response to Donald Trump's election

Conservative students criticize U-M response to Donald Trump’s election

The petition, labeled as #NotMyCampus, was signed by a number of students identifying as conservatives and some who don’t, criticizing remarks made by U-M President Mark Schlissel during a post-election vigil in the Diag on Nov. 9, while others feel they are facing bigotry and marginalization because of the conservative views they hold.

Campbell suggested that people who are not pleased with the outcome of the election should start preparing for the 2020 election.

“There’s not a lot that we can actually expect from this presidency,” he said. “But I think that if we’re aware of what’s happening, in the next one we’ll be more aware that we have a right to vote and what we can actually do with it.”

Christine Lewis, also of Michigan United, said her goal Tuesday as a white woman was to inspire other whites to speak to their families, friends and neighbors who have bigoted views – or who have misconceptions about issues. She said she grew up ignoring things her family members or friends said, and distancing herself for those with racist beliefs.

But she said Tuesday, “Our job now more than ever is to lean in to one another and to call in our friends and our families and our neighbors who may be thinking differently than us. And that’s really hard.”

She said, “I’m suggesting that we, instead of alienating one another, actually turn in to folks who may not be thinking like us and have real conversations with them. Listen to them. Hear where they’re coming from. Acknowledge the pain. And invite them to join us.”

Ed Genesis, a native of Gary, Ind., who now lives in Kalamazoo, spoke about the need to break a cycle that systematically leads more blacks and poor people into prison than into college. He said he is a convicted felon who has benefited from opportunities to turn his life around. But he fears that the new presidential administration will perpetuate a socioeconomic cycle that has seen the number of people sentenced to prison quadruple since the 1980s, while the crime rate soars.

“I want people to come away with knowing that we’re not defeated,” Genesis said. “And as long as we fight together, we can continue to win the fight. It’s a never-ending fight that we all have to fight together.”

As an alternative to locking people up, he suggested that people look for different programs and ideas that will help people reach their goals and allow them to become successful.

“I want people to know that we are not going anywhere, immigrants are not going anywhere, especially my undocumented immigrants,” said Nelly Fuentes, who works on immigration issues for Michigan United.

She balks at Trump’s promise to deport all illegal aliens, which would involve  millions of people living in the U.S.

Fuentes said she knows the rule of the land is against them, but she will fight for undocumented immigrants who are leading productive lives here to continue to live here peacefully.

Maddox said he wanted those who attended Tuesday’s gathering to understand “that the results of the election don’t determine the end results in our community. And that the community needs to join together to fight on behalf of one another to ensure that marginalized groups can reach their fullest potential in our society and be allowed to participate in their daily lives free of fear.”

Anti-Trump protesters gather in Kalamazoo

BY FOX17 NOVEMBER 15, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich.— Over 100 anti-Donald Trump protesters gathered in Bronson Park in Kalamazoo Tuesday night.  It was a peaceful protest against the President-elect’s plans for his first 100 days in office.

“We cannot dismiss the fact that sometimes the loss of the land needs to be overrided by the loss of ethics and the loss of humanity and that’s why I am here speaking for my community,” said Nellie Fuentes.

Nellie Fuentes works for the non-profit Michigan United, and more specifically deals with immigration. Fuentes said there isn’t a comprehensive immigration plan in President-elect Trump’s first 100 days.

“I think this is truly what democracy looks like,” said Fuentes.

President Barack Obama told people earlier this week that he was surprised by the election results.

“I still don’t feel responsible for what the President-elect says or does, but I do feel a responsibility as President of the United States is to make sure that I facilitate a good transition and I present to him, as well as the American people, my best thinking, my best ideas about how you move the country forward,” said President Obama.

People like Jay Maddock, the executive director of the LGBTQ Resource Center in Kalamazoo, said they’re afraid of what their future might look like in Michigan.

“I think people are afraid of what that means for their day-to-day lives in Michigan along with 26 states you can be fired for being LGBTA and you can be kicked out of your house. I think there is a lot of fear and I think it’s all legitimate,” said Maddock.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke out in Washington, and criticized Trump for a string of hate crimes happening across the United States following the election.

“So I say to Donald Trump, take responsibility. Rise to the dignity of the office of President of the United States. Stop hiding behind your Twitter account. And show America that racism, bullying and bigotry have no place in the White House or in America,” said Reid.

In a 60 Minutes interview, Trump said he would tell people to stop using hate and violence against others of different races and that it’s “terrible,” but he is “going to bring the county together.”   It was a sentiment that many at Bronson Park said they just don’t believe.

“I believe they voted for change but what they don’t know is that they voted for hate and oppression,” said Fuentes.

Kalamazoo’s Michigan United is having another event on Dec. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. The location is to be determined. They are having a discussion about policy reform to combat Donald Trump’s 100 day action plan. Specifically, this would be policy reform for Kalamazoo at the local level. For more information head to their website.

Michigan groups vow to fight crackdown on immigrants, minorities

By Detroit Free Press November 15, 2016

Michigan United joins a strong roster of service and faith organizations at the Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, to begin the work of advocacy under the new paradigm that Tuesday’s election has brought to the community.

A wide range of civil rights, community and religious leaders in metro Detroit announced today they will work to defend the rights of immigrants and minorities under the presidency of Donald Trump through a series of programs and efforts that include legal action, sanctuary houses of worship and possibly civil disobedience.

Speaking in one of Detroit’s oldest Protestant congregations, Central United Methodist Church, the groups also gathered to express solidarity with Latino students at Royal Oak Middle School who were taunted last week by chants of “Build the Wall,” which Trump often used during the campaign.

Alicia Ramon, the mother of the Latina student who recorded the chants, called for an end to racism, saying that Latino, African-American and Asian-American students at Royal Oak Middle School have been subjected to repeated hate incidents over the past year. Minority students have had to deal with racist insults against them, including one once made over the intercom system, she said.

“Racism, bigotry is unacceptable in our country, in our state, in our schools” said Ryan Bates, who leads Michigan United, an advocacy group. “This country is beautiful because we are a multicultural democracy. No one should come first. No one should come last because of what color they are, when your family came here, or how they pray.”

Bates also called for resistance to Trump’s plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“Mass deportations and roundups that can break apart families are inhumane, un-American, a moral monstrosity and an economic calamity,” Bates said. “And we are going to fight it every inch of the way.”

“We are going to resist the deportations. We are going to fight for our communities.”

►Related: Trump presidency sparks anxiety among minorities in Michigan
►Related: Protesters in Royal Oak march against Trump and bigotry
►Related: Canton police officer suspended for allegedly using racial slur

About 100 people joined Bates on stage at the Detroit church near Comerica Park, which is known for its history of activism. They included advocates with the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, ACCESS (formerly the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), the UAW, and the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The gathering came amid an upswing in hate crimes since Trump’s election victory. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 200 hate incidents since then. In Michigan, there are reports on social media and from advocates of Muslim Americans and Indian Americans being attacked, including a Muslim woman in Ann Arbor last week police said was threatened by a man who said he would set her on fire unless she took off her hijab. On Monday, the FBI released statistics that showed that hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. jumped 67%, to their highest amount since 2001, when the Sept. 11 attacks happened.

Cindy Estrada, a vice president with the UAW, called for fighting bias, and also fighting for economic justice, saying the election results are a sign many are unhappy with the economic status quo. She said she’s heard about some students getting excited that Trump’s win will lead to deportation of immigrants.

“There is so much fear among children,” said Estrada.

Estrada said labor and other organizers need to transform the fear into action.

“How do we take that anger and sadness and fear and really turn it into action,” Estrada said. “This is an opportunity for us to engage again, and to make sure we change this country so that all children have a home … are welcome.”

At the same time, Estrada expressed sympathy for Trump voters.

“There are so many people out there that voted for Donald Trump because they’re tired of the status quo,” Estrada said. “And we just got to talk to those people, and educate them and help them understand … focus on the real issues and not turn against each other.”

“We have to hold our leaders accountable,” Estrada said, praising Bernie Sanders. “The system we live in right now, it doesn’t work for our country. .. When  1% owns 50% of our cumulative wealth, we need to take our country back.”

But, she added, “we don’t have to fight hate with hate … it’s about fighting hate with love.”

►Related: Black EMU students face expulsion for sit-in over racist graffiti
►Related: Hundreds show up at EMU rally to protest racism
►Related: Reward doubled after more racist graffiti found at Eastern Michigan

 Ramon, the mother of the student who recorded the “Build the wall” chants, said “hate and racism should not be tolerated and should not be accepted.” Ramon said the chants last week were the latest in a string of racist incidents at the Royal Oak school targeting minority students. “Our kids deserve to feel safe, and it’s our responsibility and our obligation to make sure that they are,” she said.
Ramon said she wants to work with “the school in helping to create a dialogue and a change, so that this message can go to communities across America … we can make a change and be that change we need to see in our communities.”

In an e-mail sent late Friday to the Free Press about the chants, Royal Oak District Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said that “staff responded when the incident occurred.  Adults not pictured in the video directed the group of students, who were saying ‘Build the wall,’ to stop.”

The Rev. Ed Rowe, previous pastor at Central United, and current cochair of Methodist Federation for Social Action, called upon houses of worship to be sanctuaries that can accept undocumented immigrants who need protection from deportation.

“Open up the sanctuary,” Rowe said, for those “whose very lives are in danger.”

“Resist evil and oppression,” Rowe said of Trump’s proposals.

Sergio Martinez, an undocumented immigrant who spoke in the church, said he was initially nervous about Trump’s win, but is heartened by the support of many in Detroit.

Nadia Tonova, the director of the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a project of ACCESS, said that Arab Americans will not “hide in the shadows” under a Trump presidency.

“This is our country, too. … We are fully Americans.”

Bates also spoke up for those who might get their health insurance benefits cut under plans to rescind the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare. He said his newborn baby was born premature, which many times used to lead to health insurance companies cutting health benefits.

“We fought like hell for him for four months in the hospital,” said Bates, his baby on stage held by his wife. “We’re going to fight like hell for years in the halls of Congress.”

Imam Mohammad Elahi, religious leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom of Dearborn Heights, called for an end to extremism, ending the program with a prayer.

Immigration groups unite over deportation fears

By Guy Gordon
WDIV Detroit November 14, 2016

Organizations gather to condemn racist attacks

DETROIT – Nearly 20 civil rights and Faith based organizations are coming together to condemn recent racist attacks on immigrants and vowing to act on behalf of undocumented immigrants.

The organizations involved said they’ve fielded calls from residents fearing backlash following last week’s presidential election and worried about what they believe will be mass deportations in the future.

Sergio Martinez is one of an estimated 100,00-150,000 immigrants in Michigan illegally. He fears his days as a Detroiter are numbered.

“We are not about violence,” Martinez said. “I’m not about looting, but we will do everything we can to protect our families.”

President-elect Donald Trump vowed to bring stronger immigration enforcement, starting with people who are in the country illegally and who have criminal records.

“Gang members, drug dealers, a lot of these people, 2 maybe 3 million people,” Trump said. “We are getting them out of our country.”

Immigrants rights organizations doubt it is only a purge on criminals.

“We reject the notion you can slice and dice the community into good immigrants and bad immigrants,” Randy Bates, of Michigan United, said.

They are seeking congregations willing to provide sanctuary to immigrant families in threat of deportation, and volunteer attorneys to defend them.

“We are getting calls, emails from lawyers, law students, college students, nuns, imams, pastors and hundreds of others who are saying this is not what America is about, and we are here to help you,” Ruby Robinson, of the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center, said.

An incident in a Royal Oak Middle School lunch room and an attack on an Ann Arbor woman over the weekend are leaving legal immigrants fearful.

“There’s no place for racism, especially in our schools,” Alicia Ramone said.

Immigrants hope Trump will put his words of reconciliation over the weekend into action, but they are taking action of their own. They are planning a “know your rights” town hall for the immigrant community this weekend.

Anyone who is concerned about being in danger of deportation, wants to learn their rights or find out more about the recruitment of attorneys can click here to learn more.

 

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