Category Archives: Immigration

Progressive coalition brings together hopefuls 13th House seat in candidate forum

Candidates hear concerns of constituents on jobs, healthcare, immigration

Many of the leading candidates in the race to fill John Conyers Jr.’s seat in the US house heard from the people they seek to represent Saturday in a candidate forum held Detroit’s New Providence Baptist Church. Detroit City  Council president, Brenda Jones, mayor of Westland Bill Wild and state senator Coleman Young Jr. answered questions from constituents about the issues they deal with every day. State senator Ian Conyers and former state representative, Rashida Tlaib were also invited but couldn’t appear due to scheduling conflicts.

Paul Johnson III of the Disability Network of Wayne County wanted to know who supported a public program for elder care that would guarantee seniors access to quality, affordable long-term care. “I am lifelong Detroiter who  has learned the value of assisting others  from his Parents.” Johnson told the candidates.  “I have had to overcome learning disabilities always treating customer, friends and all others with compassion. “

A teacher in Detroit bravely told the story of how she had been impacted by sexual harassment. Gevonchai Hudnall said a man who had power over her made sexually suggestive comments at work, making her feel deeply uncomfortable, embarrassed, intimidated, and afraid for her job. She challenged the candidates to stand up for survivors of sexual assault on campus. “ I am glad we are now living in the #MeToo moment, and we are seeing an important shift in our culture.” Hudnall  said. “Sexual harassment and assault must no longer be tolerated. Campuses are one place where we must continue to fight and ensure that students are safe.”

Rokhyatou Toure (ROCK-key-ah-too too-RAY), a member of African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), came to protect what remains of her family after aggressive immigration enforcement that took her father, Katim last month despite having lived peacefully in Michigan for 29 years. “If elected, we expect one of you to be a champion for immigrant communities and refugees.” Toure told the candidates. “ It is time for a Compassionate Immigration Reform, that focuses, ONLY in legalization and the reunification of separated families, NOT one more dollar for deportations. Our loved ones are being stolen away from us and deported, simply for driving to work, or for showing up to their court appointments. Immigration authorities don’t even care if the spouse or children are American citizens.”

Since no Republicans have been nominated to run in the 13th district this year, whoever wins the Democratic primary on August 7th will be unopposed in the general election in November.

Progressive coalition announces candidate forum for 13th Congressional District

Hopefuls to appear June 9th at New Providence Baptist Church in Detroit

The congressional seat held by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. is open for the first time in over 50 years and his successor will be at the candidate forum hosted by Michigan United, SEIU Local 1, SEIU Healthcare, Nation Outside, Detroit Action Commonwealth, ABISA, The Women’s March of Michigan and the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity later this month. Candidates who have agreed to appear so far include state senators Ian Conyers & Coleman Young Jr., former state representative Rashida Tlaib, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Westland Mayor Bill Wild.

Participants will be faced with issues that constituents deal with every day in the 13th district including environmental protection with the Marathon refinery near Melvindale, Immigration reform and aggressive enforcement in Hamtramck and Southwest Detroit, Criminal Justice Reform and the impact it has on the job prospects of residents in Highland Park and protecting and expanding access to healthcare which affects everyone everywhere.

The People’s Candidate Forum for the 13th congressional district will be held at 2PM June 9th, 2018 in Detroit’s New Providence Baptist Church, 18211 Plymouth Rd., Detroit, Michigan 48228. Admission to the event is free but seating is limited so guests should register in advance to reserve a seat.

Cindy Garcia outraged over misrepresentation of reaction to husband’s deportation

Wife says loss of Jorge does not make America safer

The wife of Jorge Garcia, the man infamously deported on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, says a statement made during a recent CNN interview has been twisted around to make it appear as though she is somehow not upset that her family has been torn apart. Cindy Garcia said in her comment that she could not be mad at Trump for protecting Americans, but did so to contrast the fact that her husband has never posed a threat to anyone. Her true point was that Jorge had not broken a single law since he was brought to the United States at the age of 10.

“President Trump was not doing his job when he deported my husband. He was pandering to racists. I do NOT forgive President Trump for what he’s done to my family and I could not possibly be more angry with him right now!” Garcia now says. “Let me be clear. The president is not making America safer. He is a liar. What he IS doing is tearing families apart, families like mine. He’s taking good parents away from American children like mine.”

In the meantime, the Garcia family is working with the American consulate in Mexico to get a waiver of Jorge’s deportation and of the 10 year waiting period to reunite the family.

Michigan residents to lobby representatives on issues affecting their families

‘The People’s Lobby Day’ Michigan United’s 7th annual Capitol Day gathering

The People’s Lobby Day is a day of direct action and participatory democracy. Residents with shared concerns form into teams to confront lawmakers with issues of Criminal Justice Reform, The Long Term Care Study Bill (HB4674), Universal Family Care, Medicare for All, Water for Flint, and Immigration.

A  rally will be held in the city hall plaza at 12:30 PM when participants in The People’s Lobby Day will welcome pilgrimages for immigrant families that walked from Detroit and Kalamazoo to the capitol.

A 90-mile “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” kicked of in Detroit on Monday, May 14th, from the church where Ded Rranxburgaj (RAHNS-bur-guy) has sought sanctuary from deportation.He is the sole caretaker for his wife Flora, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair for mobility. The First Congregational church in Kalamazoo has been walking for Saheeda Perveen Nadeem who has been taking sanctuary in their church. If deported, Saheeda would return to a country where she would face the threat of violence with no family support.

The Rally will conclude with the announcement of a planned direct action to address the Flint Water Crisis. In years past, members have occupied the Governor’s building, the office of the speaker of the house and formed a bucket brigade carrying water out of the Capitol building. This year’s action will address the shutdown of bottled water distribution pods.

 

Pilgrimage to keep immigrant families together stops at ISKCON temple

Families of Cile Precetaj and Ded Rranxburgaj fight deportation to Albania

A 90 mile march from Detroit to Lansing in support of immigrant families in Michigan faced with deportation concluded its second day with a dinner at the ISKCON Temple in Farmington Tuesday. On Monday, the “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” left Central United Methodist Church where Ded Rranxburgaj has taken sanctuary rather than be taken from his wife, Flora and two sons, Eric and Lorenc. Ded is the primary caregiver for Flora who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and relies on a wheelchair. He hasn’t been able to leave the church even when his Flora had to be taken to the hospital.

“This pilgrimage is about educating people about the broken immigration system and specifically shining the light on the Rranxburgaj family and their plight.” Said Rev. Jill Hardt Zundel, Pastor of Central United Methodist Church. “People have no idea how immoral the system is that would separate a caregiver from his wife who has MS for 11 years. We will end at Lansing where we will meet with legislators to change the systems that oppress!”

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When the pilgrims arrived in Farmington, they met Mikey, Megan and Martina, the children of Cile Precetaj, an Albanian woman awaiting deportation in St. Claire County jail. Her kids had a message for Rebecca Adducci, the regional director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): “Please don’t destroy our futures. Give our mom back.”

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The Birmingham Temple has also been a comfort to immigrant families in distress. “For almost nine months our congregation has been helping a Syrian refugee family whose father was deported leaving mom and four young children behind.” Said Rabbi Jeffrey Falick. “Our original goal was to help them navigate their way to becoming Americans. This goal took a sad turn when this administration cruelly withdrew the family’s temporary protected status which allowed mom to work while they applied for asylum. This left the family with no income whatsoever. Since then our congregation has raised almost $10,000 which, together with funding from ACCESS and its donors, has kept the family alive. This sad story is all too typical of what is now happening in our country to people who sought nothing more than relief from the horrors of war.”

IMG_7319Farmington and Farmington Hills State Representative Christine Grieg (D-37) was inspired by the activism and encouraged the pilgrims to carry on. “Our community can lead the way to change. By showing the solidarity that we have here tonight, by taking it to the streets, by taking it to the polls, we can change the direction of the state and of the country.” Rep Grieg said.

The pilgrimage will begin again Wednesday as the group continues up Grand River Ave. towards New Hudson where they will next share stories over a potluck dinner in James F. Atchison Memorial Park.

Ded Rranxburgaj Sends Off Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together

Faith leaders march to Lansing, visit wife, Flora in hospital

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Ded Rranxburgaj, an Albanian immigrant, waved goodbye from Central United Methodist Church, where he has taken sanctuary from deportation, as Rev. Jill Zundel and other faith leaders began a nine-day march to Lansing on his behalf to ask the director of the Detroit ICE Field Office, Rebecca Adducci, to grant Ded a Stay of Removal and stop separating families.

Rranxburgaj had been allowed to stay in the United States to take care of his wife, Flora, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), under immigration policies prior to the presidency of Donald Trump. As Trump enacted changes, Rranxburgaj was forced to take sanctuary at the church with his wife, Flora, and two sons.

Flora had planned to start the pilgrimage along with the family’s advocates but was hospitalized after becoming ill over the Mother’s Day weekend due to her MS. The first stop of the pilgrimage was visiting Flora at the hospital, where she is recovering.

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“It is so terrible that my wife is sick in the hospital, and I cannot be there with her. Every time she had to go to emergency over the past 11 years, I always went with her. But now, I cannot leave this church, and that is very hard,” said Rranxburgaj.

“This is the second time we have called 911 since they took sanctuary in January. Because ICE will deport Ded if he leaves the church, he cannot visit his wife in the hospital, so we must visit her for him. And that is what this pilgrimage to keep families together is about. Ded can’t march to Lansing for himself, so we must march for him,” said Rev. Jill Zundel, pastor of Central United Methodist Church, where Rranxburgaj has taken sanctuary. “They have taken away his freedom, and Flora’s dignity, so we must act for them.”

Dozens of supporters left the church to begin the 90-mile march to Lansing with signs in support of the Rranxburgaj family and ending deportations.

“I don’t know what I would do if my husband was deported. Who would take care of me? Who would take me to the hospital? I don’t know why ICE is doing this to me, to my family,” said Flora Rranxburgaj.

Supporters will make stops each day to tell the family’s story and show support for other immigrant families separated by deportation.

THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER

Detroit to Lansing
Schedule of Events:  May 14th – May 22nd, 2018

A 90-mile “Pilgramage to Keep Families Together” from Detroit to Lansing is kicking off Monday morning. Michigan United and allied immigrant communities will join supporters of an Albanian American family in sanctuary in a Detroit church for the journey.  The church where the event will begin is also where Ded Rranxburgaj (RAHNS-bur-guy) has sought sanctuary from deportation. The goal of the 90-mile trek is to seek justice and a stay of deportation for Ded, the sole caretaker for his wife Flora, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair for mobility. He is also the sole breadwinner for the family which includes two teenagers.

The group of immigrant families and other immigrant rights advocates plan to march into Lansing on Tuesday, May 22 with multiple stops and events along the way, including a few in Detroit. The events will be led by different immigrants impacted by deportation, they will tell their stories, educate the public attendees about the immigration system, and provide opportunities for advocacy to stop deportations, including the deportation of Rranxburgaj.

MONDAY 5/14

11:00AM Event:   Send-off from the Sanctuary

Speakers: Ded Rranxburgaj, Flora Rranxburgaj, Rev. Jill

Walk with us:  11:30AM-5:00PM

10.9 Miles – Up Grand River Ave. to Evergreen Road

Shuttle to Event Location from corner of Grand River & Evergreen to Brightmoor UMC

provided by Arthur and Mary Park

5:00PM Event:   Supporting Immigrants in Detroit

Brightmoor Aldersgate UMC, 2065 Outer Drive West, Detroit

Speakers: Flora Rranxburgaj, ABISA

Shuttle to Vehicles provided by Arthur and Mary Park, Carmen Kelly at 6:00PM.

Dinner provided by members of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church – Bloomfield Twp.

TUESDAY 5/15

Arrive at 10:15AM: ISKCON Farmington Hills Temple, 36600 Grand River Ave, Farmington

Shuttle to starting location of Grand River & Evergreen provided by the Birmingham Temple

Walk with us:  11:00AM-6:00PM

9.9 Miles – Up Grand River Ave. from Grand River & Evergreen to ISKCON Temple in

Farmington. Lunch will be provided.

6:00PM Event:   Supporting Immigrants in our Community with our State Legislators

ISKCON Farmington Hills Temple, 36600 Grand River Ave, Farmington

Speakers: Flora Rranxburgaj, Peter Gojcevic, Rabbi Jeff Falick, 

Dinner provided by Birmingham Temple

WEDNESDAY 5/16

Arrive at 9:15AM: James F. Atchison Memorial Park, 58000 Grand River Ave, New Hudson

Walk with us:  10:00AM-6:00PM

11.7 Miles – Up Grand River Ave. from ISKCON Temple to James Atchison Memorial Park

6:00PM Event:   Story-Telling & Take Action Potluck

James F. Atchison Memorial Park, 58000 Grand River Ave, New Hudson – Pavilion 1

Dinner provided by Indivisible Huron Valley

THURSDAY 5/17

Arrive at 11:15AM: First UMC, 400 E Grand River Ave, Brighton

Walk with us:  12:00PM-6:00PM

8 Miles – Up Grand River Ave. from James Atchison Memorial Park to First UMC Brighton

6:00PM Event:   Story-Telling & Take Action

First UMC, 400 E Grand River Ave, Brighton

Speakers: Ded & Flora Rranxburgaj (Skype)

Dinner provided by First UMC Brighton at 6:00PM.

FRIDAY 5/18

Arrive at 10:15AM: Howell, MI; exact location TBD

Walk with us:  11:00AM-6:00PM

10.3 Miles – Up Grand River Ave from First UMC Brighton to Howell location

6:00PM Event:   Story-Telling & Take Action

Speakers: Ded and Flora Rranxburgaj (Skype)

SATURDAY 5/19

Arrive at 11:15AM: Fowlerville, MI; exact location TBD

Walk with us:  12:00PM-4:30PM

7.8 Miles – Up Grand River Ave from Howell to Fowlerville

SUNDAY 5/20

8:30AM Event:   Mass and Coffee Hour

St. Agnes Catholic Church 855 E Grand River Ave, Fowlerville

Walk with us:  10:30AM-4:30PM

11.6 Miles – Up Grand River Ave from Fowlerville to Williamston

MONDAY 5/21

Arrive at 10:15AM: All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Road, East Lansing

Walk with us:  11:00AM-5:00PM

11.3 Miles – Up Grand River Ave. from Williamston location to All Saints Episcopal Church, East Lansing

6:00PM Event:   Story-Telling & Take Action

All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Road, East Lansing

Speakers: Ded and Flora Rranxburgaj (Skype), Action of Greater Lansing,

TUESDAY 5/22

Walk with us:  10:00AM-12:00PM

4 Miles – Along E. Michigan Ave. from East Lansing to Lansing

12:00PM Event:   Pilgrimage Finale & New American Dreams Launch at the Capitol City Hall Plaza, 124 W. Michigan Ave, Lansing

 

Immigrant Families & Advocates Press for Rights at May Day Rally

Coalition demands rights for all working families

Clark Park was the gathering site for a large coalition of groups calling for immigration reform on May Day, International Workers Day. Michigan United was part of the coalition that insists the rights of working families are crucial regardless of ethnicity, immigration status or national origin. Flora Rranxburgaj who has multiple sclerosis (MS) spoke at the rally. Flora is the wife of Ded Rranxburgaj who is her sole caretaker and the family’s breadwinner. Ded is also in sanctuary at Central United Methodist church as protection against his being deported and depriving his wife of care and their two teen sons of their father. Flora and the pastor at the church where Ded is in Sanctuary both spoke out about the role of local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I have been sick with MS for 11 years, and my husband takes care of me every day, said Flora whose immigrant husband is in sanctuary. “ICE is trying to split us apart and we are asking the director, Rebecca Adducci, for help. So far, she is still trying to split us apart. It is not right. This should not happen to any family.”

The Rev. Jill Zundel, pastor at the church that granted the family sanctuary, also spoke out about the necessity of keeping the family together. Rev. Zundel also made note of an upcoming march to fight for the rights of all endangered immigrant families.

“When our church saw that families were being separated by deportation, we decided to stand up and be leaders for unity!” said Rev. Zundel. “We have fought hard for the Rranxburgaj family, but so far ICE is still trying to tear them apart. We know that can’t happen, for Flora’s sake, so we will keep fighting.  We also know that they aren’t the only ones being torn apart by ICE, so we will keep fighting until we can keep all families together! On Monday, May 14, we will begin a march across Michigan to Lansing, a march to keep families together. Please join us!”

Citizenship question on census unconstitutional, ill-advised

Proposed change would drive immigrants into shadows and would weaken our democracy

The Trump administration wants to include a question on the 2020 census that will ask who is a US citizen in your home? What immigrant in their right mind would reveal their citizenship status after watching for two years as ICE tore innocent parents away from their families despite living peacefully in America for decades? Even many citizens living in mixed status families with undocumented parents, siblings and spouses won’t answer this question. Such a question would make reduced immigrant participation in the next census a complete certainty.

Even when slaves were only considered 3/5th of a person, Article I section 2 still instructed that they be counted along with all other persons regardless of citizenship. “This appears to be an attempt to skirt around the Constitution which mandates the ‘enumeration’ of all ‘persons’ as distinct from only ‘citizens’.” said Diego Bonesatti, the Michigan United Legal Services Director.  “This is why a dozen states, including New York and California, are suing to stop the the Department of Commerce from putting this question into Census 2020.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, without a hint of irony, that the move was being made to defend the voting rights act when clearly it would only exacerbate the effects of gerrymandering by further diluting the voting power in communities of color. Any gains Trump and his party may make politically will come at the cost of “flying blind”, making important policy decisions based on faulty and incomplete information for the next 10 years.

“This is clearly yet another way of fabricating a situation to deliberately keep people underwater.” said Michigan United board member Seydi Saar. “The effect will be to make sure marginalized people are underrepresented. As a result, at-risk communities of color will be short changed the important resources they need.”

That is why we at Michigan United believe a democracy functions best when it recognizes all people. Intimidating and erasing immigrants isn’t just immoral, it’s bad policy. The constitution calls for an accurate snapshot of the nation so that all of our decisions might be just. As the Bible reminds us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18)

Hundreds of Letters to ICE: Save Rranxburgaj Family

Colorful copies of written pleas tied to ICE fence in face of agency’s silence

Supporters of an Albanian American family currently in sanctuary in a Detroit church delivered more than 700 letters to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office on Jefferson. The letters ask that ICE officials grant a Stay of Removal to Ded Rranxburgaj (RAHNS-bur-guy), the sole caregiver to his wife, Flora who is stricken with Multiple Sclerosis. The illness has confined Flora to a wheelchair. Copies of the letters on colored paper were left on the agency’s fence in the face of ICE’s stony silence in response to the hundreds of people asking that the Rranxburgaj family to be spared.

“We’ve received letters from children as young as 6, and people as old as 92,” said Caitlin Homrich-Knieling, organizer at Michigan United, “We’ve received letters from people from all over the world, from Christians, Muslims, and Jews. From brain surgeons, teachers, and high schools students. It’s been incredible seeing how everyone supports this family, and wants them to stay together.”

Among the letters were pleas for the Director of the Detroit ICE Field Office, Rebecca Adducci, to “open her heart” and “do what’s right,” quotes from the Statue of Liberty, and personal stories from people whose loved ones have MS.

 “Like Flora, my son Josh has MS,” said the letter from Pastor Alan Casillas, Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Imlay City, “MS is a terrible disease that steals away a person’s mobility. As a father who has a son with MS, I cannot imagine being deported and leaving my son to fend for himself or leaving him in the care of others. I can only imagine how scary the thought of being deported must be on Ded, Flora, Lorenc, and Eric.”

Photo courtesy Cherie Horrigan-Happy
Photo courtesy Cherie Horrigan-Happy

“Rebecca Adducci must give Ded a stay of removal, it’s the only moral thing to do.” said Rev. Jill Zundell, Pastor of Central United Methodist Church. “It has been 8 weeks that the family has been living in sanctuary, and it has been very, very hard on them. Every day that passes, Ded wonders if ICE is going to force him to abandon his wife and sons. But they deserve, like any American family, to be free and to have peace. Especially in their time of need, while Flora’s MS is getting worse. What ICE is doing, continuing to threaten Ded’s deportation, isn’t right. The Field Director of ICE, Rebecca Adducci, has the opportunity right now to be the light in their time of darkness by giving Ded a Stay of Removal. If she doesn’t, ICE is heartless.”

An immigrant facing deportation, Ded Rranxburgaj declared sanctuary at Central United Methodist Church, along with his wife, in January. The Rranxburgaj family, originally from Albania, has been living in the United States for 17 years. During those years, Ded has worked tirelessly at a local restaurant and in construction to support his family. His older son, Lorenc, attends the University of Michigan Dearborn, and his younger son, Eric, attends Southgate High School. Flora, fell ill with Multiple Sclerosis 11 years ago, and Ded has cared for her ever since.

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