Category Archives: Immigration

The People’s Governor Candidate Forum

62 coalition partners announce non-partisan forum for March 3rd in Detroit
Will feature special guest Congressman Luis Gutierrez

An unprecedented coalition of more than 60 organizations so far has announced they will hold the next gubernatorial candidate forum at Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2018. The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future will offer voters the opportunity to hear directly from candidates on issues that directly affect their lives.

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“We are going to demand that the politicians come to us early, and that they listen to our community’s needs,” said  Co-chair Rev. Deedee Coleman, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity. “We want them to address our bold agenda for a prosperous, healthy future for all.”

Hassan Sheikh, Executive Dir. Emgage
Hassan Sheikh, Executive Dir. Emgage

Co-chair Hassan Sheikh, Executive Director of Emgage announced that the People’s Governor Candidate Forum will feature Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. “Congressman Gutierrez has been a champion for working people, for immigration reform, and a voice for those who have been marginalized and left out.” said Sheikh. “The Congressman will get us fired up, and outline the values we hope that candidates will embody.

The candidates confirmed to attend so far include Democrats Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Cobbs, as well as Republican Patrick Colbeck. The group has invited candidates from all parties who have submitted 15,000 nominating petition signatures to the Secretary of State or drawn at least 5% support in an independent non-partisan statewide poll by February 19th. They will be challenged to address issues of  poverty, inequality, and racism. Co-chair said the group has decided on 6 topics for the night: criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights.

Gov forum announcement from Michigan United on Vimeo.

“We’re going to bring real people, workers, families, people of faith, child care providers and immigrants, to speak truth to power.” Said Co-chair Dr. Louis Forsythe of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

The candidate forum’s audience quickly outgrew its first venue and was moved to Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church where the sanctuary holds 2,400 with a quiet room for childcare.

Sanctuary of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Sanctuary of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church

Buses have already been reserved to bring voters from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Macomb County. “When we join together, the candidates will know that they have to deal  with us collectively.” Said Co-chair Freddy Polanco of the SEIU.

You can see a list of member organizations and reserve a seat with a free ticket on the Michigan United website. Registration is required.

Translation into Spanish and child supervision are available.

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future

Saturday, March 3 at 1 PM
Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
2080 W. Grand Blvd, Detroit, Michigan 48208

Michigan United is one of 60 organizations hosting the 2018 People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future to be held at 1pm Saturday, March 3 at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.

We will engage candidates on issues that deeply matter to us and our communities. Join us and help build grassroots, people power in the political area!

Seating is limited and the venue is filling up fast. Be sure to register now to reserve you seat today! Click here to get your ticket: http://bit.ly/2018govforum.

Organizations Co-Sponsoring the Event
(more to be announced)

ACCESS
Action of Greater Lansing
African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA)
Arab American Civil Rights League
Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan
Birmingham Temple Social Justice Committee
Board of Justice, Michigan Conference, United Methodist Church
Central Michigan Action, Mt Pleasant
Central United Methodist Church, Detroit
Church of the Messiah
Clean Water Action
Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology
Community Economic Development Association of MI (CEDAM)
Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity
Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)
Detroit Action Commonwealth
Disability Network – Wayne County/Detroit
Emgage
Fems for Change
First United Methodist Church of Ferndale
Greater Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church
Gray Panthers
Indivisible Fighting #9
Indivisible Huron Valley (IHV)
Indivisible Mi8
Indivisible Michigan 8th – Ingham
Indivisible Michigan – District 11
Indivisible Downriver – 12th
Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice
Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED)
MADE Institute, Flint
Marygrove College, Master of Social Justice Program
Medicare for All Michigan
Metropolitan AME Zion Church, Detroit
MI ALMA
Michigan Muslim Community Council
Michigan Nurses Association
Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters & Millwrights
Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network
Michigan People’s Campaign
Michigan United
Monroe County Positive Action Network (MCPAN)
Nation Outside
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
National Network for Arab American Communities
Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church
North Oakland Indivisible
Pastor & Associates Law, Troy
Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Detroit Friends Meeting
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Detroit
SEIU Healthcare Michigan
SEIU Local 1
Sierra Club Michigan Environmental Justice Action Group
Sunrise Michigan
Trinity Lutheran Church, Richmond
Triumphant Life Christian Church
UAW Local 600, Dearborn
Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington
Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR)
Welcoming Everyone Grosse Pointe (We GP)
Women’s March Michigan
Women of Michigan Action Network, Midland
YWCA Kalamazoo

 See you there!

Grand Rapids immigrant rights advocates respond to SOTU address

A clean Dream Act must be the focus

Members of the West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform gathered the day after President Trump’s State of the Union address to react to the proposed policies he presented. Trump wants to make aid for immigrant youth known as “Dreamers” to be dependent on increased border security and reduced legal migration. Advocates who spoke Wednesday at the Iglasia Misionaera de Cristo church disagree.

“We want a clean Dream Act, separate from the rest of President Trump’s immigration reforms.” said Rev. Justo Gonzalez. “As a man of faith, I stand on the side of justice. While we applaud the president’s path to citizenship for these young people, we are concerned that it will be done on the backs of other immigrants.”

While the President’s proposal increases the number of eligible participants under the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program  from about 800 thousand to 1.8 million, the path to citizenship would take more than a decade to complete. At the same time, opportunities for family reunification would be reduced by preventing American citizens and Legal Permanent Residents from sponsoring their parents and adult children to get family visas, despite the long arduous process that often takes years or decades. In addition Trump is seeking to end the diversity visa lottery that offers a limited number of visas from countries that don’t normally immigrate to the U.S.

“We need to stop being afraid of speaking out.” said Daniel Corecheo, one of the many DACA recipient in danger of losing protections before the program expires completely in March. “We have been afraid to speak out up until now. We have been afraid of losing the little that we have, but if we don’t stand up now, we will lose everything.”

Michigan Senators stand with immigrant youth, vote against budget without DREAM Act

Trump’s rejection of bipartisan compromise results in shutdown

Both of Michigan’s US Senators have sided with immigrant youth in the federal budget battle. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, after much pressure and consideration, have decided not to support a budget resolution that does not include protections for “Dreamers”, undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children by their parents. The DREAM Act, an amendment that would codify protections offered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is popular among the overwhelming majority of Americans, but sadly, not with Republican leadership in the House, Senate nor the Oval Office.

Despite having publicly said “Bring me a deal. I’ll sign it. I’ll take the heat.”, President Trump has twice rejected bipartisan deals brought to him. This is because he has deferred to extremists in his party who would not accept the DREAM Act under any circumstances. As a result, the GOP has decided they would rather shut down than government than accept any compromise

It wasn’t until hours before the deadline for the government shutdown that Sens. Peters and Stabenow conceded how futile negotiations had become. What would another month extension change for the extremists who won’t accept a bipartisan compromise?

We at Michigan United commend Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters for choosing to stand with immigrant youth and their families and against racist policy. We look forward to the day that our nation’s leaders come to their senses and we can agree to reopen the government and restore protections for immigrant youth.

Michigan activists among 25 arrested in Washington DC for a clean Dream Act

Groups from across nation converged on five most racist opponents

The fight to include legislation to protect immigrant youth reached a fever pitch Thursday as 25 people decided to be arrested rather than quietly allow Dreamers to slip back into the shadows to live in fear of deportation again. Member organizations of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) sent activists to the offices of the five most racist opponents of the Dream Act, legislation that would codify Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA).

A 20 person strong delegation went into the office of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to insist he end his opposition to the widely popular, bipartisan DREAM ACT. When they were told a meeting could not be arranged at that time, the delegation began a sit-in protest. Capitol police moved them into the hallway where they began chanting outside Sen. Cotton’s door. When they were told to disperse, five people held their ground and continued to speak out until they were arrested.

Arkansas resident, Gabriel Lopez along with four allies from Michigan United and Cosecha, Rosa Fraga, Lorena Aguyo-Marquez, Patrick Wigent and Kathleen Underwood were taken into custody but soon released and fined. Although his staff claimed they couldn’t schedule a meeting before the five were arrested, Sen. Cotton agreed to meet with DACA recipients from Arkansas by the time they got out.

“I’m doing this because Cesar Chavez, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders fought for my rights and now it’s my duty to fight for the civil rights of others like the Dreamers.” said Fraga. “If we don’t get a clean Dream Act here, a lot of young immigrants are going to lose out on jobs and educational opportunities before March.” She said of the final day of the DACA program. “But even though it’s really popular, our congresspeople don’t seem to want to give it to us. That’s why we’re here. To stand up for the people and give voice to the voiceless.”

“Republicans control Congress and the white house it’s their responsibility to govern and represent their constituents.” said Aguayo-Marquez “The overwhelming majority of Americans, over 80%, support a DREAM Act bill, including more than 60% of Trump voters. It’s time for Congress to do the right thing and pass a clean DREAM Act. Everyday that goes by more families that would qualify get separated, like the Garcia family. Congress must stop caving in to the demands of the most extreme white supremacists and actually do what the Majority of Americans want, which is to pass a clean DREAM Act and pass a budget to keep the government open. That’s why I am risking arrest.”

Immigration officials work through MLK holiday to break up family

Jorge Garcia deported, bids goodbye to wife, children

The battle to keep the Garcia family together ended early Monday morning at Detroit Metropolitan airport as Jorge Garcia complied with an deportation order. This, despite the national holiday commemorating civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. and movement on congress for immigration reform to codify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Recent comments about Haitians on the anniversary of the earthquake that struck the island have compelled the President to respond to charges of racism during the King holiday.

Jorge has been a Detroit resident for 30 years since his family brought him here at the age of 10. He was just 2 years too old to qualify for DACA, but has been a exemplary member of his community on a rollercoaster like odyssey to stay here. President Trump has asked for, and received a bipartisan plan to protect “Dreamers” protected by DACA and for comprehensive immigration reform that might help Jorge. Trump’s rejection of a clean Dream Act could scuttle hopes for passage of the federal budget, resulting in a painful government shutdown.

Garcia 3Jorge’s wife, Cindy was told he wouldn’t be allowed to return home for a decade. Still, she keeps hope alive that they will not be separated that long. “We’re going to pray and get him back fast, faster than this paperwork that gave him a 10 year bar.”

Cindy thanked every who got up before dawn to give much needed support, friends, activists and her union brothers and sisters. “I don’t see the justice in this.” said AJ Freer of UAW 600. “For a man who cares deeply and supports his family, obeys the law, pays taxes and has a history of helping others, I think ICE and the Federal Government of the United States acted cruelly to this family.” Bruised but unbowed, Freer vowed “Now we fight to get him back.”

Immigrant rights advocates speak out for laborers killed in fire

Tragedy in Novi only highlights injustice nationwide

District Judge Marianne Battani’s decision last Thursday not to hold a Novi man responsible for the deaths of five young men has immigrant rights advocates outraged. The Mexican laborers, aged 16-23, were living in Roger Tam’s basement when a fire broke out, killing them all. Judge Battani sentenced Tam to 9 months in jail for hiring the men but refused to punish him for the circumstances leading to their deaths. At a press conference Tuesday outside the Levin Federal Courthouse, representatives of LaSED, NAACP, the Congress of Communities and Michigan United pointed to the incident and outcome as evidence of a system that forces millions to live and work in abject conditions while not holding accountable those responsible.

Mary Carmen headshot 3“Sadly, this is not an isolated incident.” said Mary Carmen Munoz of LaSED. “Undocumented immigrants are being exploited and abused all across the country and the perpetrators are not being held accountable. “

SAM_1645The coalition is calling for safe working and living conditions, and a livable wage for all workers whether they are immigrant, American or undocumented. ““How sad is it that the lives of these five young people could be marginalized?” Said Donnell R. White, Executive Director of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP. “Today, we call on our justices and elected officials to move legislation to prevent this from happening again and to hold those responsible to the letter of the law when it does. Today we are united as one community and one voice.”

“We will not accept hateful and divisive politics that spread fear and lies about our immigrant families.” Said Consuela Lopez, Congress of Communities. “We want real protections for all workers Americans and immigrants alike.”

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32 Senate Democrats Vote Against Budget Resolution Without DREAM Act

Where Were Senators Peters & Stabenow?

On Thursday night, Republican leadership proposed a stop-gap spending measure that would keep the government funded into the new year, but it did not include the DREAM Act, legislation that would codify protections for immigrant youth once offered by the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program.  The continuing budget resolution passed along party lines with a 66-32 vote.

Immigrants rights advocates have loudly called for Senators not to vote for any budget measure that leaves out the DREAM Act, and 32 Democrats stood with them. Most notably, Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow were not among them.

Every day, 122 immigrant youth lose their DACA protections and become eligible for deportation. Allies of immigrant youth need to be courageous and refuse to allow Republicans to move forward without providing immediate relief.

On January 22nd, the budget will again be up for a vote. Senators Stabenow and Peters will have another opportunity to do the right thing. A vote for the budget without the DREAM Act is a vote to leave immigrant youth out in the cold yet again. We at Michigan United would find that wholly unacceptable.

Immigrant Advocates to Michigan Senators: Vote No on Budget Measures Unless They Include DREAM Act

Protecting immigrant families a moral imperative in national priorities

On a telephonic press briefing today, Michigan immigrant rights advocates called on their US Senators not to come home without needed protections for their immigrant youth. A vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government is expected today. Advocates called on Senators Stabenow and Peters to vote no on any budget measure that does not include the DREAM Act. The continuing resolution, and the budget, will require Democratic votes to pass, and advocates believe that our Senators should demand the DREAM Act in return.

The briefing was conducted by:

Rev. Paul Perez, Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church
Freddy Polanco, Political Director, SEIU Michigan
State Representative Stephanie Chang
Juan Gonzalez, Detroit resident & DACA recipient
Oscar Castaneda, ACTION Lansing
Richard Kessler, West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform

A recording of the event is available at: https://soundcloud.com/michiganunited/dreamchip-tele-press-conference#t=0:00

“I was so proud when our community won DACA. My office has helped dozens of young people apply– I could see their horizons open up, and their fears slip away, all with just a simple piece of paper.” said State Rep. Stephanie Chang. “ We should not accept a budget, or a continuing resolution, that does not reflect our values. We are urging our allies to vote no until the budget measures up.”

“The Trump Administration’s revocation of DACA has thrown the lives of younger immigrants into chaos.” said Richard Kessler, President, West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform. “Every day, 122 more of them lose this protected status and find they are no longer allowed them to work, pursue their education or serve in the military. We need our allies to have courage NOW, and vote no on any budget or continuing resolution without relief for immigrant youth.”

Immigrant Rights Leaders to Demand Michigan Senators Include DREAM Act in Budget

Telephone press conference sites moral imperative to save immigrant families

MICHIGAN – Thursday afternoon, leaders from the immigrant rights community will hold a telephone press conference to demand that the Senate, including Democrats, include the DREAM Act.

The lives of younger immigrants in particular have been thrown into chaos with the Trump Administration’s revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). That Obama-era action protected younger immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work, own businesses, pursue their education and serve in the military. 

The votes of Michigan Senators are being needed to pass the budget. Our Senators should demand the inclusion of the DREAM Act  as a condition of their votes.

WHAT:

Telephone Press Conference: Democrats Stand up for Immigrant Families with DREAM Act

WHO:

Rev. Paul Perez, Director, Office of Mission and Justice, Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church

State Representative Stephanie Chang

Freddy Polanco, Director, SEIU Health Care Michigan

Richard Kessler, President, West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform

Oscar Castaneda, organizer, ACTION of Greater Lansing

Farah, Erzouki, Public Health Coordinator, ACCESS

WHEN:

Thursday, December 21, 12:15 p.m.

Where:

Contact Erik Shelley, 248-982-6326  erik@miunited.org for dial in number.