PRESS RELEASE: Immigrant Families March in Detroit’s Labor Day Parade

News from Michigan United


Monday, September 7th, 2015
Contact: Erik Shelley (248) 982-6326

Immigrant Families March in Labor Day Parade, Call Attention to Family Deportations
Michigan United members cry out for justice, transparency

DETROIT – Union members and community organizations came out strong this Labor Day in Detroit, marching in the early September sun down Michigan Avenue to Hart Plaza for the annual parade celebrating the workers rights movement.  Not least amongst them was Michigan United, the statewide organization that has championed workers rights as well as immigration issues and police accountability. They carried signs that read “Stop separating Families” through deportation. They carried a clear plastic banner that read “What happened to Terrance Kellom?”, questioning the official account of the the death an American citizen from Detroit who was shot by an ICE agent in April.  And walking in their midst was Alvaro Lopez, an undocumented Detroit resident who fears the two daughters he raises alone will be left fatherless if he is deported on September 17. His daughters are Americans, born in the United States, and Mr. Lopez has no criminal record.  Yet ICE plans to deport him even though they can use prosecutorial discretion to stop his deportation.

Also in the parade was the wife and children of Ever Cornejo, another good father awaiting for his deportation in detention. “We just saw ICE tear Jose Zaldana away from his wife and deport him back to El Salvador where violent gangs are waiting for him.” said Immigration Organizer, Adonis Flores. “Now we don’t want Ever’s four American born children to lose their father. The stakes seem to keep getting higher, but we can’t quit. Everyone here is fighting to protect their families.”

When the parade reached its destination by the riverside, the Michigan United troupe slipped away to a shady grove by the Mariners church. Reverend Ed Rowe, the retired pastor of Central United Methodist Church, now with Interfaith Worker Justice said a prayer for the families and their children. “If we really wanted to bless America, it would be a place where all people are welcome and we would not be destroying and separating families. We look for you to help us to become the America you want us to be.”


Michigan United is a broad, statewide coalition working to reform our broken immigration system, advance housing justice, protect the rights of low-wage workers and develop leadership. More information can be found at the Michigan United’s website:

Michigan To Make Plans To Reduce Carbon Emissions

Nico Berrios WBCK-FM September 2, 2015

Michigan officials announced today plans to develop a State Carbon Implementation Plan (SCIP) to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. The SCIP must comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) introduced August 3. Without a state plan, Michigan would be subject to the federal implementation plan.

“This is great news for Michigan,” said Michigan United Organizing Director, Branden Snyder. “It illustrates that we can be a leader in fighting carbon pollution despite the efforts of our rogue Attorney General, Bill Schuette. We now have the historic opportunity to curb unchecked carbon pollution and reduce the impacts of climate change.”

Attorney General Schuette joined 14 other states last month in asking a federal court to block the CPP rule. However, according to Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, Mr. Schuette is “pursuing that case in his individual capacity.” Governor Rick Snyder reinforced this position stating, “We need to seize the opportunity to make Michigan’s energy decisions in Lansing, not leave them in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

In March, Governor Rick Snyder said in his energy message that he’d like to see Michigan increase renewable energy sources and reduce waste through greater energy efficiency by between 30 and 40 percent. Such moves would give State leaders the opportunity to craft a plan that would spark local investments in clean, renewable energy and create good-paying jobs in energy efficiency that would also save people money on their electric bills.

To be clear, the specifics of Michigan’s SCIP haven’t even been discussed yet, but the final plan must at least meet the standards set by the CPP to protect Michigan’s public health, agriculture, and water resources from damaging carbon pollution. What that will mean ultimately will depend on robust, public input from impacted communities.

“As the response to Hurricane Katrina sadly illustrated, low-income communities and communities of color are impacted most often and most severely by pollution and climate change,” said Sam Johnson, Pastor at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. “While I’m glad to hear the state will be developing a statewide implementation plan, it is critical that the administration partakes in a robust public input process and seeks input from the communities most affected by carbon pollution.”


PRESS RELEASE: Summer block party brings fun, poetry & people power

News from Michigan United

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Contact: Christine Lewis
(616) 822-6848

Summer block party brings fun, poetry & people power
Kalamazoo families strive to tell stories of incarceration; seek community solution

Kalamazoo – Bad weather may have driven them inside, but it didn’t dampen their spirits. The block party originally planned to take place at La Crone park moved to the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership and the show went on. DJ Majyck D laid down the beats while local artists displayed their work and the neighborhood kids were kept busy with a variety of activities

But it wasn’t all fun and games. The event’s hosts, Humans Beyond Boxes and Michigan United’s Fair Chances for All, sought to delve into mass incarceration and the effect that it has on families in Kalamazoo. Specifically, on families’ access to educational and economic opportunities. “When someone is convicted of a crime, it may only be one person that goes to prison, but it’s the whole family that gets incarcerated.” said Anthony “13/13” Oliver, Humans Beyond Boxes performer and Fair Chance 4 All member. “It affects our children the most. You’re looking at a child who has lost a mother or father figure in their household,” Oliver said.

Oliver served 11 years and 6 months in Michigan prison. He shared his story on stage of returning to the community in 2005, and says a huge obstacle facing previously incarcerated people is access to quality employment. “People out there may not know how hard it hurts incarceration our families, but when a person tells their story, each time it chips away at that stigma one may have about previously incarcerated people. We are Humans Beyond Boxes, because we are humans beyond this stigma. It’s that same stigma that has got employers unwilling to hire people with criminal backgrounds.”

Oliver shared the stage with Nick Boyd, a local Kalamazoo business owner and financial advisor. “As a business owner I need [previously incarcerated people’s’] skills. Also someone returning needs to find their own meaning in life. In a society where our identity is often wrapped up with what we do — that means a chance to build a career.” Boyd said. “Most people I find out who do have a criminal backgrounds are smart creative hard working people and right now our business community makes it hard for them to thrive. That has got to change.”

The city of Kalamazoo took a step to address this issue in 2011 with a policy that removed questions about criminal history from municipal employment applications. The Michigan United Fair Chance 4 All campaign hopes to see this expand to the private sector as well. “Banning the box in Kalamazoo has been great for low income communities and not just for residents returning from serving their sentences.” said Boyd who is a member of Michigan United’s Fair Chance 4 All campaign. “We want to see this expand into the private sector and so does the private sector. Building healthy communities is just good business.”

Yolonda Lavender closed the event to a standing ovation with an a capella medley of God Bless the Child by Billy Holiday & We Who Believe in Freedom by Bernice Johnson Reagon. “I chose these songs to highlight ownership. Ownership of self and of our community. We are fighting for community solutions for people returning from incarceration. There is a sense of freedom that comes with that. You own whatever has happened in your past and in a sense we share stories and continue to fight as an act of liberation.”


Michigan United is a broad, statewide coalition working to reform our broken immigration system, advance housing justice, protect the rights of low-wage workers and develop leadership. More information can be found at the Michigan United’s website:
Anthony "13/13" Oliver sharing his story. Photo credit Christine LewisAnthony “13/13” Oliver sharing his story. Photo credit Christine Lewis

Troy man’s family fighting against deportation to El Salvador

Francisco Zaldana, nephew of Jose Adolfo Zaldana, rallies in Detroit to prevent his uncle’s impending deportation to El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Michigan United
Francisco Zaldana, nephew of Jose Adolfo Zaldana, rallies in Detroit to prevent his uncle’s impending deportation to El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Michigan United

Supporters of a Troy man, whose deportation to his native El Salvador could occur any day, fear for his life.

They’re hoping the federal court judge assigned to his case will reconsider his fate.

Jose Adolfo Zaldana, 26, was arrested in March 2014 and has since been jailed in Battle Creek. He was deported in 2009 following an arrest in which he was found to have a small amount of cocaine, before illegally reentering the country in 2010, according to Michigan United, a statewide organization dedicated to seeking social justice for its clients.

“It’s like flipping a coin,” said Michigan United immigrant rights organizer Adonis Flores. “We never know what the outcome is going to be.”

On Monday, supporters gathered outside federal court in Detroit in hopes of keeping Jose Zaldana in the country.

Zaldana’s family organized a 17-mile walk down Woodward Avenue from Royal Oak to Detroit in June to raise awareness for his case.

Jose Zaldana has previously been denied asylum and the group is lobbying U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Leitman to issue an injunction which would help buy Zaldana time to appeal his immigration case.

Zaldana’s return to the area in 2010 was forced by turmoil in his home country, the organization said.

In the time spent in El Salvador, Jose Zaldana was beaten by gang members and his family was the subject of an extortion plot.

“I don’t want him to have to go there and I don’t want to go there,” wife Merari Zaldana said. “I don’t want our children to have to go through what he did.”

Involuntarily initiated into a gang as a pre-teen, Jose Zaldana fled to the United States in 2006. Supporters say the violence is so out of control, he was beaten by gangs before returning to the United States and faces death threats upon his return.

“(Immigration officials) know everything he’s gone through is true,” Merari Zaldana said. “(Gangs) control everything. The police can’t do anything.”

Flores said extortion by gangs is not uncommon and that some deportees are killed soon after they return to their native country.

“We know that undocumented immigrants have broken the law, but what should the consequence be – losing their life?” Flores said. “You have to take into consideration why they came here.”

Flores said Zaldana served time for cocaine possession, residue found inside his wallet.

“He made a mistake and owned up for it … but it’s being used by immigration to paint him as a dangerous person,” Flores said, noting Zaldana has done extensive work with his church and has no other criminal incidents.

The Zaldanas have been together for eight years and were married earlier this year while Jose Zaldana was incarcerated.

Relocating to another country is not how they want to start a family.

“We don’t want to do that,” Merari Zaldana said. “We’re not going to go to a country where we don’t know anybody.”

Merari Zaldana, 23, was born in Mexico, and now resides in Troy, where she graduated from Troy High in 2010. She was granted a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy implemented in 2012, and works at a local restaurant.

She still hopes to attend college.

The couple has limited contact – phone calls and visits – but if Jose Zaldana was removed from the country, his wife can’t imagine life without him.

“It’s so hard to think about it,” Merari Zaldana said. “I haven’t really thought about it.”

A group called Michigan United says another native of El Salvador, Ever Cornejo, also is facing imminent deportation.

A father of four American-born children, Cornejo, 30, of Detroit, has no criminal record, but does not meet the requirements for asylum, according to the organization.

“Immigrant families are mixed families (of immigration status),” Flores said. “Deportation breaks those families apart.”

A representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not available for comment on the cases.

Michigan United, families in Kalamazoo rally for immigration reform

Stephen Brooks |
By Stephen Brooks, MLive,  June 28, 2014 

KALAMAZOO, MI – A slight drizzle of rain may have dampened the turnout but it didn’t drown out the passionate voices of dozens of activists on Saturday at an immigration reform rally in downtown Kalamazoo.

One year to the day since the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill that has yet to be voted on by the House of Representatives, Michigan United held a rally to urge President Barack Obama to stop deportations and keep together families threatened by deportation.

The event, held at Kalamazoo Community College’s Arcadia Commons campus, was among 38 protests scheduled to take place in cities across the country – including rallies in Lansing, Detroit and Grand Rapids – Michigan United lead organizer Wendy Medrano said.

“We’re saying stop deportations because there’s a lot of people who get deported for things that aren’t serious, like a traffic violation or something like that,” Medrano said. “We understand if they committed a felony, that’s something different.

“We want to give these people a chance to have some sort of status so they feel safe in their own communities. President Obama has the power to do that.”

Holding with signs that read “Stop separating families” and reciting chants such as “Obama, Obama, don’t deport our momma,” the group made its way down the Kalamazoo Mall to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton’s office.

On the day she graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in social work, 23-year-old Celeste Salvador told a story of how her mother was taken to jail while driving to work because she’s an undocumented immigrant. Salvador said her family had “a very hard time” after her mother’s arrest, especially considering she was driving to work to help pay for Salvador’s college education.

Salvador is protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, which gives undocumented immigrants age 30 or younger two years of immunity to deportation and allows them to get work permits and driver’s licenses if they’re eligible.

“Thanks to DACA I’m able to work and go to school and live a normal life,” Salvador said. “But it’s not totally normal because my parents are still undocumented.”

Esteban Verdugo, 12, of Kalamazoo said participating in the rally was important to him after seeing his father deported. Verdugo – who was previously arrested for civil disobedience while protesting outside Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office in  Washington D.C. – said he doesn’t want his undocumented step-father to meet the same fate because of a “broken immigration system.”

“I think eventually we could persuade Congress to pass the bill so that we can have immigration reform,” Verdugo said.

Here’s How Detroit Has Managed to Keep the Peace During Protests Over Police Brutality

Colleen Curry, Vice News

The shooting death of a 20-year-old black man in Detroit by a federal agent last week spurred protests and community meetings in the city, where anger has long simmered over police brutality, but community leaders say they hope the situation will not boil over into the sort of destructive rioting and looting seen recently in Baltimore and Ferguson.

Terrance Kellom was wanted for armed robbery when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent — and a member of an interagency task force in Detroit — shot and killed him at his home. A police report said Kellom lunged at agents with a hammer, though his father said that wasn’t true. Seven spent shell casings were found at the scene, and authorities have refused to release Kellom’s autopsy report.

Tensions ran high at the ensuing protests, and authorities said they were on the brink of losing control. “They came real close to crossing the line and getting arrested,” Police Chief James Craig said Thursday after video surfaced of an unruly demonstration.

Eric Shelley, the spokesman for the group Michigan United, told VICE News that some protesters were “on the edge of crossing the line,” with some in the crowd “almost challenging the police,” but the situation never got completely out of hand.

“You could see the tensions take a step back,” Shelley said. “Like Martin Luther King said, riots are the language of the voiceless, so giving the people more voice would perhaps reduce the risk of danger.”

After more than 47 fatal shootings between 1995 and 2000, including six of unarmed suspects, Detroit entered into two consent judgments with the Justice Department in 2003 that kept a federal monitor watching over the city’s police department until 2014. A civilian police commission was also created to oversee the department.

‘I don’t think the tendency here would be to go out and burn and loot and shoot.’

Ron Scott, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, called it “the strongest police commission in the country,” and told VICE News that the city’s long history of activism and organization has helped maintain order even as the community’s anger over Kellom’s death has steadily risen.

“This is the city that originally had Black Power and the largest civil rebellion in the country in 1967,” Scott said. “I don’t think the tendency here would be to go out and burn and loot and shoot. There are a lot of things that people are going through right now we’ve been through.”

According to experts, a city’s history is just one factor that influences whether public outrage over allegations of police misconduct erupts into destruction. John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told VICE News that such outcomes are also shaped by the government’s ability and willingness to communicate with residents, take their grievances seriously, and deliver justice.

“If you build trust in police, dedicate resources to monitoring police, and engage citizens in a proactive way, you’re much less likely to get into these situations,” Roman said. “If citizens don’t trust the police, the police don’t have accountability mechanisms, and the police take a tough approach to policing, you’re much more likely to get into these situations and having an enormously hard time getting out of them.”

To explain the dynamics, Shelley cited the case of Floyd Dent, a Detroit resident who was beaten by a suburban police officer during a routine traffic stop earlier this year. Prosecutors dropped drug charges against Dent after video emerged showing Officer William Melendez hitting him 14 times in the head. Melendez was fired and now he and another officer face criminal charges in connection with the case.

“Something that’s overlooked is the effect of justice,” Shelley said. “You have the riots in the Baltimore that seemed to calm down when the officers were charged.”

In response to Kellom’s death, Shelley and Scott have been organizing community meetings with Police Chief James Craig and the US Attorney’s office in Detroit to discuss the case and broader issues of police brutality and accountability. They’ve also been working to restore power to the police commission, which lost its oversight powers in 2013 when Michigan’s governor appointed an emergency manager to oversee the city’s financial operations.

“We are trying to keep police accountable,” Shelley said. “On Friday we intend to go to ICE and ask for a full investigation and see if we can do something about this multi-jurisdictional task force.”

That type of community organizing and dialogue between government and citizens is essential to avoiding the type of explosive riots seen elsewhere in recent months, Brian Jackson, director of safety and justice program at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank, told VICE News.

“The issue of police-community trust is how the social capital gets built up so when something does happen… there’s a presence of those community groups and touch points between the community and police to work through the process to make sure everyone is satisfied that events are being dealt with in a fair and impartial way,” Jackson said.

Although federal oversight of Detroit’s police has ended, Scott said the way the city handles allegations of police misconduct has improved. And even when the public feels a grievance hasn’t been properly addressed, there are mechanisms in place to coordinate a response.

“What we’re trying to do is to make sure we have a different type of way to resolve issues,” Scott said. “We are in a situation where we have a number of organizations apply pressure when necessary.”

Still, Scott said that things could get ugly in Detroit if protests ever turned violent. He called the city a “burgeoning police state” full of federal agents and heavily armed officers, and said there is resentment over “corporate policing” in the form of private security firms hired by Quicken Loans and other corporations headquartered locally.

“I don’t want to create havoc, but if there’s an insurrection here, they’re not going to burn up a CVS,” Scott said. “There might be a shootout.”

He emphasized the unlikelihood of that scenario, but said if it did happen it would “be more highly organized and orchestrated than what we’ve seen before.” Ultimately, however, the activist leader said most people in Detroit trust that organizations like his will see that justice is served without individuals feeling the need to take matters into their own hands.

“They respect some of us who have been out here a long time to get justice,” Scott said. “We’ve dealt with numerous cases and been successful in getting justice in those cases, and they trust us to do what we have to do to work with everybody else.”

Follow Colleen Curry on Twitter: @currycolleen

Immigrants decry challenge to limit deportations

By Niraj Warikoo Detroit Free Press, April 17, 2015

Immigrants and their advocates gathered at a Catholic church today in southwest Detroit to support President Barack Obama’s order to reduce deportations of undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents

Last year, Obama announced an order that would allow many undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens to stay in the U.S.

That order was challenged in court by a number of state attorney generals, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who filed lawsuits. A judge temporarily blocked Obama’s order in February, and the case is being heard today by a federal appeals court in Texas.

Holding up signs that read “Stop Separating Families,” members of the advocacy group Michigan United and other groups gathered at St. Hedwig Catholic Church to oppose the attorney generals who filed the lawsuit.

“We don’t want a generation growing up without their parents,” said Detroit attorney Carrie Pastor, who often handles immigration cases.

Theresa Tran, executive director of Asian Pacific Islander Americans Vote Michigan, said that Obama’s order will bring “much needed relief” to immigrant parents. She said the lawsuit by the attorney generals was frivolous.

Schuette and others who filed the lawsuits have said that Obama’s order was unconstitutional.

Rosalia, an undocumented immigrant in Detroit, spoke at today’s news conference. She didn’t give her last name out of fear of being deported.

She said that she and her husband and one child came to the U.S. illegally in 1999 from Mexico. Last year, her husband was deported, leaving her to take care of four children, three of whom are U.S. citizens. One of them is allowed to be in the U.S. under a program known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that allows some children of undocumented children to stay legally in the U.S. Obama’s order also would raise the age limit for those who apply for DACA.

Rosalia is fearful she could be deported at any time. She would have qualified to apply for legal status under Obama’s order, but that was blocked by a judge.

“What will happen to my children if I’m deported?” she said today.

She said she’s afraid to seek help for one of her children who has autism out of fear of being reported to authorities.

“I need to be able to get out of my house without being afraid,” she said. “My biggest fear is being torn away from my children, who were born here and are U.S. citizens.”

Obama’s order, she said, “would end the stress of knowing that a traffic stop on the way to the grocery store could tear our family apart.”

Cesar Ochoa, a radio host at La Mejor station (WHPR-FM, 88.1) in Detroit, said he’s getting an increased number of calls from listeners with family members being arrested and deported because of their immigration status.

Contact Niraj Warikoo: or 313-223-4792. Follow on Twitter @nwarikoo

US Attorney, Barbara McQuade joins panel on police accountability tonight in Detroit

Michigan United Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change gives community opportunity to raise questions about civilian oversight of the police.

DETROIT – How much control can a community expect to have over law enforcement officials?  If police lack local control, does the federal government have the duty to step in?  Michigan United’s interfaith coalition, the Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change (DPAC) will host a panel discussion to answer these questions and more.

Scheduled to appear are US Attorney, Barbara McQuade; Chairman of Detroit Police Board of Commissioners, Willie Bell; Vice-President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), Ainsley Cromwell; Detroit City Councilman, Gabe Leland; Detroit Police Officer (Ret.), Shelly Foy; Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Ron Scott; Community Activist, Grover Easterling lll.

Detroit was recently relieved of federal oversight, but at a critical time, shortly after the death of Michael Brown and before the city’s bankruptcy agreement. An order in that agreement took oversight control of police from the elected board of commissioners and gave it to the mayor.  The Department of Justice has since decided not to pursue federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

Barbara McQuade, US Attorney, Federal Department of Justice
Gabe Leland, Detroit City Council Member (7th district)
Willie Bell, Chairman, Detroit police board of commissioners
Ainsley Cromwell, Vice-President, National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE)
Shelly Foy, Detroit police officer (Ret.)
Ron Scott, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality
Grover Easterling lll, Community Activist

Panel discussion on police accountability.  Q&A session to follow.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015, 7:00pm

Evangel Ministries 13660 Stansbury, Detroit, MI 48227

Immigration protesters flood congresswoman’s office

Sarah Wojcik, C & G News, February 19, 2015

At approximately 9:45 a.m. Feb. 19, Shelby Township police officers were dispatched to U.S. Rep. Candice Miller’s office, located south of 28 Mile on Van Dyke Avenue, for a large, unannounced protest.

Protesters fill U.S. Rep. Candice Miller’s Shelby Township office Feb. 19 to voice opposition to the congresswoman’s stance on immigration. (Photo courtesy of Erik Shelley)
Protesters fill U.S. Rep. Candice Miller’s Shelby Township office Feb. 19 to voice opposition to the congresswoman’s stance on immigration.
(Photo courtesy of Erik Shelley)

The group, later identified as being affiliated with Michigan United and National People’s Action, arrived on four school buses, and more than 150 individuals, holding signs and chanting, crammed into the building.

According to the police report, the office manager stated that two females entered the lobby and requested an application for a flag. When the office manager opened the office door to give the application to them, one of them held the door open and the large group pushed its way into the office from outside.

Upon arrival, officers entered the office area and attempted to make contact with a leader for the organization, but no one acknowledged who that person was at the time.

Police worked their way through the crowd and located the office manager, who said she and the district manager were the only staffers at the office. Police escorted the two women away from the crowd.

Michigan United Director of Movement Politics Bartosz Kumor, of Detroit, told police he would act as spokesman for National People’s Action and said the group wished for immigration reform and came to the office to speak with Miller in an effort to change her position on immigration.

Police said that, for safety concerns of the large group inside the office, they should request an appointment with Miller. Police also advised Kumor of the group’s right to protest off private property and that the owner of the building did not want them impeding traffic flow or hindering business on private property.

Kumor informed the group and they peacefully exited the building in a single file line as they continued to chant.

The group assembled in the office parking lot for approximately five minutes, holding signs up for passing motorists as officers stood by, and then the protesters boarded the buses and left.

Miller provided a statement to the Shelby-Utica News Feb. 19.

“I fully support U.S. citizens’ First Amendment right and have always encouraged my constituents, who are U.S. citizens, to bring their concerns to my attention. The individuals who came to my office today were treated cordially, with respect and I fully understand their position.”

Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide said his initial response was concern for the well-being of the employees.

“(The protesters) kind of went in unannounced and without permission and took over the office,” Shelide said. “We will not tolerate that kind of behavior in the community. Our shift supervisors cleared them out of the office and told them if you want to protest, do it out on the sidewalk.”

Shelide added that members from the Police Department would be sitting down with Miller’s deputy director to talk about security enhancements for the office so that such an incident doesn’t happen again.

Michigan United Media Coordinator Erik Shelley, of Redford, said the group had tried repeatedly to meet with Miller and submitted multiple forms to her office to arrange a meeting.

“It wasn’t like we just sprang up and surprised her. One of our principles is to build up to direct action. We’ve given her every opportunity to meet with us and speak civilly,” Shelley said.

He said the group was in the area to attend a conference on community organization and the group consisted of people from Michigan and from across the country.

Shelley said the group opposed Miller’s work to defund immigration actions that would allow children brought into the United States and their parents to stay without fear of deportation and increase militarization of the border.

Michigan immigration groups say Texas lawsuit is a temporary setback

LANSING, MI – Michigan immigrants without documentation shouldn’t panic in the wake of a recent lawsuit that temporarily blocked pro-immigration orders from President Barack Obama, immigration groups said today.

The executive orders in litigation are the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Judge Andrew S. Hanan filed an order that temporarily halts the immigration policies, according to the Associated Press. The ruling gives 26 states — including Michigan — time to pursue a lawsuit that would permanently block DAPA and the DACA expansion.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on Dec. 8 he had joined the lawsuit.

“America has always been a beacon of hope. Our country needs an immigration policy that is hopeful, encouraging and lawful. A federal judge agrees that the President’s unilateral action is constitutionally flawed, and now the rule of law will get its day in court,” the Attorney General’s office said in a statement today.

Here in Michigan, immigrant groups are working to let families who might be affected know this is not the end of the story.

“The most important thing for immigrant families to know is that they should not panic, this is a temporary setback,” said Theresa Tran, director of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan.

She and other immigration activists in Michigan were confident that the executive orders would eventually be ruled legal.

“We have full faith that the legality of DACA and DAPA will be upheld,” said Diego Bonesatti, legal services director for Michigan United.

The U.S. Department of Justice plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. For now the Department of Homeland Security will not be taking applications for the extended DACA program.

“I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it,” said United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson in a statement.

“Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.”

If the lawsuit turns around and people are able to apply for these programs again Susan Reed, managing attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, said she thinks people would still apply to the programs.

“I believe people will still apply because the current situation for some families is so untenable,” Reed said.

Emily Lawler is a Capitol/Lansing business reporter for MLive. You can reach her at, subscribe to her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @emilyjanelawler.