‘Dr. Evil’ makes April Fools appearance in Detroit foreclosure crisis demonstration

From MLive.com

DETROIT, MI – Debbi Adams has spent the last two years struggling to hold onto her home, and she believes the firing of a federal official could make it easier for thousands of homeowners to fight off foreclosure.

After being laid off in 2011, Adams fell behind on mortgage payments and started a long process of trying to modify her loan, struggling for months with basic steps like finding out which bank held her mortgage.

“I fought very hard to keep my home,” said Adams of Detroit. “I had to go to court. There was an organization that stood up for me and I was able to save my house. It was a long hassle that ended up, for me, positively, but for so many people, they give up.”

Good Friday prayer rally in Kalamazoo calls on Congressman Upton to support immigration reform

From MLive.com

KALAMAZOO, MI — When David Mata was a senior in high school, he thought he was on his way to fulfilling his dream of being a doctor. Then the native of Mexico found out he was an unauthorized immigrant.

“I had to turn down two full-ride scholarships,” said Mata. He couldn’t find a university to accept him until he applied toWestern Michigan University. In June, Mata, who was one of two university students in the state to receive a prestigious Michigan Society of Neuroscience grant, among other awards, will graduate with a master’s degree in science. He is currently applying to medical schools.

Grand Rapids crowd protests separation of families due to immigration laws

From MLive.com

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—A crowd of 50 people marched several blocks from downtown’s Calder Plaza to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Friday, March 29 as a way to remember the families who have been separated by immigration laws.

Joyce Herdog, a Dominican sister, told participants before the march that Good Friday is “the perfect occasion to remember Jesus’ message. “He made no distinctions. His love embraces all of us,” said Herdog.

AIR/MOP announces Michigan will join thousands of demonstrators in national march!

From the Detroit News:

Dearborn — Cindy Garcia fears that when her husband, Jorge Armando Garcia, is sent back to Mexico in May, he’ll be forced to stay there, separated from her and their three children.

While Garcia and her children, ages 18, 10 and 7, are American citizens, she’s fighting for what supporters say will be a fair pathway for her husband and other immigrants to gain citizenship.

AIR/MOP launches national campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform for EVERYONE!

From CBS:

DETROIT (WWJ) – A rally was held outside of St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Southwest Detroit part of an ongoing push for reforms to U.S. immigration laws.

Groups that make-up the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan are calling for reforms that would remove obstacles like extended background checks that keep families separated for as long as 10 years. They’re also calling for new laws that would require potential offenders to be targeted based on their actions and not on ethnicity.

Dreamers Win Driver’s Licenses!

From MLive:

Ryan Bates of the Alliance for Immigration Rights and Reform Michigan, who helped organize student protest at the Capitol last year, said the state’s new DACA policy was fueled by young people like Martinez who will play an important role in the drive toward comprehensive immigration reform.

“It was an effort by students themselves, leading and taking action along with a broad coalition of labor and civil rights leaders,” he said. “They were able to reverse a pretty confrontational policy towards immigrants. This bodes really well for comprehensive immigration reform and shows we have a lot of momentum heading into the big fight.”

Michigan immigrants and advocates from around the state are expected to visit the nation’s capital in early April for a “Keep Families Together” rally. AIR is helping to organize buses from Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.

Skating on thin ICE: The slippery slope of legality

What do you think of when you hear the word “detainee?”  My mind instantly flashes to an outlaw being interrogated by governmental agents after a grueling, hours-long high-speed chase.  Now, consider this image of a detainee – a twelve-year old boy in the hospital watching a friend be treated after a car accident.  It’s not the picture that immediately comes to mind, but sadly, this may be the sweeping reality.

I only became aware of the actuality of child detention last summer when I worked with the U.S. Center for Refugees and Immigrants in the Children’s Center.  My task was to conduct intakes of unaccompanied minors that were in deportation proceedings.  I asked about their lives in their home countries and soaked in their responses about gang violence, extreme poverty, and their perceived lack of future opportunities.  I learned about their agonizing journeys across the US/Mexican Border, also known as “el camino muerte,” whether it was on foot, by train, car, or with the help of a coyote.  When I asked about their reasons for traveling to the United States, I received a slew of answers ranging from education, reunification with family members, peace from persecution, and/or work.  From time to time, the children wanted to discuss how and when they were detained and the treatment they received from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement- “ICE”.

Remember the 12-year old I mentioned earlier – the shocking visual of the new reality in detainment? To suit his sobering situation, I will call him “Desperada” de Honduras.  Desperada had been living in the US for nearly 4 years.  He made the journey from Honduras to Mexico on the top of a commercial train and the rest of the way on foot with the help of a coyote.  He slipped under the radar in the US for a few years until a monumental event occurred and changed everything.

Desparada was riding in the passenger seat of his friend’s car one afternoon.  Another car was turning right and hit the car.  The driver was badly injured and was taken immediately to the emergency room.  Desperada went to the hospital with his friend because the police thought he could have suffered a concussion as well.

While Desperada was in the waiting room, ICE approached him and asked for his legal documentation.  Desperada, unsure how to react, informed the officeres that he did not have legal papers.  ICE immediately detained him, questioned him, and proceeded to place him in deportation proceedings.  After eight antagonizing months, when given the choice, Desperada opted for a voluntary departure.  This young boy, once full of hope, had given up on his fight for a future.

ICE saw Desperada as any other Juan, Miguel, or Carlos.  They had failed to appreciate the tragedy that brought him to the hospital and instead zeroed in on stereotypes; he was just another individual being typecasted as an undocumented immigrant.  Little did they know that Desperada had escaped Honduras when he was nine years old and traveled “el camino muerte” by himself.  After crossing the Mexican border, the coyote left him for dead after receiving the money his mother had collected from selling street food for years.  Desperada had no other options.  His father was brutally murdered by Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational gang, which had complete control of his drug-driven village.  He was the next to be killed unless he joined the gang, which was hardly an actual guarantee of survival.

Desperada came to the US to reunite with his long lost uncle, to get an education, and to escape the gangs and drugs that consumed his destructive village.  “I want to go to school, learn English, and get a job to help my mom and sisters at home from hunger.”  Unfortunately, he was not given the chance to continue his story.  ICE did not care to learn the truth of Desperada’s story nor that of his desperation.

ICE came to Desperada at a moment of weakness.  He was terrified about his friend, shaken up after the accident, and not able to comprehend and understand the extent of what was occurring, especially when on considers his language barrier.  The hospital waiting room is a public place, and technically it is a location ICE can be. But where is the decency?  Where is the heart?  A twelve-year old boy is not the face of terrorism; he is not smuggling drugs; and he is not ‘taking our jobs’.  He is struggling to survive for himself and for the family that he has been forced to leave behind.  ICE tends to lump all immigrants together, irrelevant of their backgrounds or experiences.  This may be done for efficiency, but at what cost?  It seems that we are slipping into a place full of hard, rigid, and detached agencies pushing laws for a broken system.  Pretty soon, all we will have left is…ice.

For more information about child detention, visit:

http://www.refugees.org/our-work/child-migrants/

For an award-winning documentary on unaccompanied minors, watch:

http://www.whichwayhome.net

Introduction: Kanika Suri

Kanika Suri, an individual consumed with wanderlust, was raised in metro Detroit by her first generation Indian immigrant parents.  Kanika received her Bachelor’s of Arts in International Relations and Comparative Cultures and Politics with a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at James Madison College within Michigan State University.

Throughout her time at Michigan State University, Kanika interned with the Refugee Development Center in Lansing, a non-profit organization that focused on giving refugees both formal and informal learning opportunities in order to flourish as US residents.  She quickly realized that she had a deep passion for working with refugees and immigrants, helping them find jobs, helping them adjust to another society, and working with, and for those less fortunate than her, especially since she spent more time at the Center than on her studies.

The combination of her unwavering desire to help the immigrant population and her love for public policy brought her to Wayne State Law School.  She is enjoying the academic environment and exploring the greater Detroit area while pursuing her dream of practicing immigration or asylum law. Though many dream of saving the world, her only aspiration is to leave it a better place than that which she was brought into.

Celebrating America’s Greatness This Memorial Day- Adonis Flores



This Memorial Day weekend, like most American families, my family spent quality time at the lake. My mom, my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, the whole family was there, legal U.S. residents, American citizens and undocumented immigrants alike, keeping alive the grand American tradition of barbecuing to celebrate America’s greatness. A tradition that everyone in my family follows every year, almost religiously, but for the last three years it has been very different. My uncle Jorge and my little cousin Ivan have been left out of the picture every year since my uncle was deported. Ironically my uncle Jorge was deported on January 20, 2009, the same day that president Obama gave his inauguration speech.

That day was a bittersweet day for my family. We were very hopeful about the promise of change that President Obama had promised to bring, but we were also very worried about my uncle’s whereabouts. He had been working out of state for a while due to the economic recession. That day, he was traveling to Texas, where he would work for several weeks, when the company’s van was pulled over by Border Patrol near Dallas, Texas. He was the only Mexican in the van, and was immediately arrested because they were suspicious of his legal status. One of his coworkers called us to inform us that he had been arrested by Border Patrol. When we tried to find him neither Border Patrol nor the local authorities could give us any  information of his whereabouts since he was transferred several times from one detention center to another over the same day. It was not until the next day, when he called us from Juarez, that we felt some relief.

This is the same story that we hear over and over again about undocumented immigrants being deported, except that my uncle did not come to the U.S. illegally. My grandma, a legal U.S. resident,  sponsored his visa to come to the U.S. After years of waiting for his visa, my uncle finally received it in 2002, and rushed to Detroit eager to reunite with his mother. Unfortunately, the immigration process can get very complicated and visas like my uncle’s expire and must be renewed constantly. Uncle Jorge had missed the deadline to renew it on time and the only valid document that he had near the border was his Michigan Drivers Licence. He was not aware that he had the right to renew his expired visa until the day he was arrested and by then it was too late. Now that he has been deported, processing his documents has been delayed for several years, and he must wait in Mexico meanwhile.

His wife did not want their American son to grow up without a father, so she packed up and moved to Mexico to be with her husband. My uncle and my cousin missed our Memorial Day celebration this year. As a matter of fact, my cousin is being denied his right as an American, to grow up in America. He is four years old now, and does not speak English, a language, that most Mexican-American children learn in kindergarten. This same story is repeated thousands of times. Many Americans are denied their right to grow up in America, to learn English, and when they come to the U.S. as adults, they struggle to assimilate into the American culture, a culture that was supposed to be their own.

My cousin is not able to grow up in the U.S. because of a broken immigration system, which Congress and the President have failed to fix. During his speech at the border last month, President Obama, called on Republicans to join him in a by-partisan effort to reform the broken immigration system. He addressed the senators and representatives that in the past had opposed to the idea of comprehensive immigration reform. The majority of these congressmen argued that the border must be secured first before immigration reform could be considered. The President responded to their argument by pointing out that their calls for border security have been answered. The government has focused its attention on the border security for the last four years. The number of border patrol agents on the border has more than doubled, funding for border security has drastically increased, deportations have skyrocketed, and thousands of miles of fence have been built along the U.S.-Mexico border. It appeared that the president was pointing his fingers to Republicans and blaming them for their inaction on the matter, but the truth is that Democrats and the President could have done much more.

Ironically, Americans along the border appear to dislike these changes. When Obama mentioned the fence and the deportations, the crowd booed and yelled, “knock it down.” On the other hand, when he said that it was time to provide a path that would allow these immigrants to legalize their status, to pay fines and “backed-up” taxes, the crowd cheered and applauded. It appears that Americans living on the border are not as worried about undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Then who are these congressmen representing, if the people along the border do not want a fence and do not want more deportations, and what kind of security are people along the border asking for?

It appears that communities along the border care more about security from the violence caused by the drug wars, and are not worried so much about immigrant workers. To me, border towns are upset because they want Border Patrol to focus on protecting them from drug cartels, not from their friendly neighbor Jose, who works in landscaping. They know that a comprehensive immigration reform would allow border security  to focus on drug cartels and other violent criminals by allowing seasonal workers to travel back and forth legally across border checkpoints. Republicans and Democrats, however, continue to play politics with this situation, and innocent people continue to suffer the consequences, including American citizens, like my four year old cousin Ivan.