Tag Archives: ICE

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.”

Be part of the National march on Washington for a clean DREAM act.

Come with us to Washington DC as we march for the DREAM Act and urge Congress to include it in the budget on December 6th. The budget must pass by December, 8 in order to avoid a government shutdown. Therefore, we must make sure that the budget includes a clean DREAM Act. This march is our last chance to ensure that a clean DREAM Act is included in the budget.

Space is limited. Click HERE to register now.

Buses depart the afternoon of Tuesday, December, 5 and return on the morning of Thursday December, 7. We have delegations leaving from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Detroit. Click here to save your seat on the bus

New Christian, Muslim Coalition Launches with March

Coalition to focus on American traditions of diversity and religious freedom
Faith leaders and congregants from local Christian and Muslim communities took to the streets Sunday in a display of unity to uplift basic human dignity and counter recent attacks on refugees, Muslims and immigrants. “Neighbors Building Bridges” launched its campaign for interfaith and intercultural understanding with a march that began in Southwest Detroit at St. Gabriel’s Church, included the American Muslim Society in East Dearborn and ended at UAW Local 600.

Mario Hernandez hero“The Muslims of East Dearborn and the Christians of Southwest Detroit are neighbors who face many of the same challenges since the presidential election,” said Mario Hernandez, an immigrant parent fighting to stop his deportation. “But, working together with like-minded allies, we can strengthen our communities and work to overcome the racism and xenophobia that are ever present. We are people of faith who want to keep immigrant families like mine together and we see our adherence to faith as a way to combat bigotry and prejudice.”

The group, made of many people from different faiths and backgrounds, sees itself as being rooted in the great American traditions of diversity and religious freedom.

“When we look at the diversity of the people who make up our communities, we should be reminded that this nation was founded by immigrants many of whom were seeking the right to worship without persecution,” said Khalid Turaani, President of the American Muslim Leadership Council. “We are following the examples set in our respective faith traditions of welcoming the stranger and providing a place of refuge for those in need. It just so happens those are core American values as well. We want to be clear that refugees, immigrants and people of all faiths are welcome here.”
Photo courtesy Chloe Michaels

Many Michigan undocumented immigrants’ hopes dashed by Supreme Court decision

Advocates for undocumented immigrants say a Supreme Court decision hurts millions of families in the U.S.

In a tie vote, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that blocked the president’s executive order on immigration.

President Obama wanted to stop deportations of undocumented parents with legal resident children.

Attorney Ruby Robinson is with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. Robinson says undocumented residents of the U.S. live with tremendous day-to-day insecurity and fear.

“Every day when that (undocumented) parent goes to work or the child goes to school, there is no guarantee that the parent will be in the house when that child returns,” says Robinson.

And he says everyone, not just immigrants, stood to gain from the executive order.

“We don’t want children to grow up in the United States without parents, we don’t want them to be reliant on social services safety nets if a parent is deported. We want families to be together,” he says.

Robinson says there are about 60,ooo undocumented parents in Michigan who would have benefited from the president’s order.

He hopes the case comes before the Supreme Court again next year, after a ninth justice will be appointed.

Immigrant Rights Leaders: Tied Supreme Court Decision Means We Head to the Polls

Vacancy on bench allows decision to be revisited when court at full strength

On a press call in response to the Supreme Court’s tied decision in the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) case, Michigan immigration reform leaders urged the community to head to the polls in November. The decision in the case of USA v. Texas addressed President Obama’s DAPA program which would have granted protection from deportation and a work permit to up to five million undocumented parents of US citizen children. it is estimated that as many as fifty thousand of those parents live in Michigan. Today’s decision was on an injunction halting the program, not the legality of the program itself.

Download selected audio from the press conference here

“The Court’s tie decision leaves the door open for the Supreme Court to come back to this case and enact deportation relief that would keep families intact,” said Adonis Flores of Michigan United. “But that can only happen if voters make it clear that we want and need a Supreme Court justice that values all families, including immigrant families, and will recognize deportation relief as crucial for millions across the nation. We have to mobilize to make that happen.”

The current vacancy on the Supreme Court has created a unique situation that made this tie decision possible. Consequently, the court could revisit the program when a new justice is appointed.

“We’re going to fight for our families, and that means mobilizing every voter we can this summer and fall. We need to send a strong message to the next President and win a pro-immigrant Supreme Court,” said Nadia Tonova, director of the National Network for Arab American Communities. “This summer you’re going to see undocumented families register voters, knock on doors, and get out the vote. Even if you can’t vote, you can still organize.”

Organizers promised to contact at least thirty thousand Arab , Asian, and Latino American voters this summer and fall as part of a coordinated civic engagement effort.

Participants promoted the following public events regarding DAPA and the civic engagement push:

  • Friday, June 24, 12 p.m., Michigan State Capitol, Lansing, MI
    Vigil with the Mid-Michigan Immigration Coalition & Greater Lansing Network against War and Injustice
  • Tuesday, June 28, 6:30-8 p.m., Town Hall Meeting – Now What? Next Steps for Immigration
    Michigan United Kalamazoo, 1009 E. Stockbridge, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Saturday, July 9, 10 a.m., St. Francis of Assisi Parish Hall, 4405 Wesson, Detroit, MI
    Town Hall Meeting for Immigrant Families on the Consequences of the DAPA Decision
  • Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m., Immigrant Citizens Voting Power Door-to-Door Canvass
    Michigan United Detroit, 4405 Wesson, Detroit, MI
    Michigan United Kalamazoo, 1009 E. Stockbridge, Kalamazoo, MI

STOP the Deportation of Tonin Brushtulli

Call Detroit ICE Field Director, Rebecca Adducci 313-568-6036

Tonin Brushtulli is a loving husband and father. He is the sole caregiver for his wife, Katrina who has gastroparesis, a rare medical condition that has no treatment and his stepson Ilir, a disabled U.S. veteran. Tonin has been the father he never had, giving him and his mother the love and support that they need in these trying times.

But Tonin is scheduled to be deported to Albania on June 15th, days after Memorial day and just before Father’s Day. If he’s torn from his family, neither his wife or son will have anyone to take care of them once he’s gone. The only chance their family has is for ICE Director, Rebecca Adducci to use her discretion and stop his deportation to keep the family together.

They need your help now! Call Detroit Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, Rebecca Adducci. Ask her to “Use her prosecutorial discretion to STOP the Deportation of Tonin Brushtulli.” They will want to know his Alien Number.  It is 098 518 649.

This veteran’s family deserves Adducci’s respect and gratitude. Tell her to honor Ilir’s sacrifice to this country and let them stay together.

40 Labor, Faith, Civil Rights Groups Call on Obama to End ICE Raids

President Obama, Stop the immigration raids and protect vulnerable families

From across Michigan today, 40 labor, faith, civil rights and community groups called on President Obama to end a new round of raids targeting Central American families seeking who have fled their home countries as refugees.

“These families are coming from countries with some of the highest per capita murder rates in the Western Hemisphere,” said Michigan State University professor, Ruben Martinez. “The United States should be working to protect these families instead of returning them to the dangers they will surely face.”

Click here for Audio from the tele-press conference available for download and broadcast.

The group includes the state’s largest labor unions, more than a dozen faith leaders, as well as representatives of the Latino, Asian American, and Arab-American communities.

Please see the full statement and signers below:


To: Honorable President Barack Obama
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Sara Saldana

We are extremely concerned with the Administration’s announcement that DHS will pursue home raids that specifically target immigrant and refugee families from Central America.

Home raids are a deeply traumatizing and brutal experience for immigrant communities. We believed that the Obama Administration had progressed toward a more nuanced and humane understanding of immigration enforcement, particularly as it relates to families and children. However, this program is a step backwards toward the dark days of the Bush Administration’s discredited policies.

Many of these families will be sent to some of the most violent areas on the planet– nations on the brink of civil war with drug gangs. El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the world, 22 times higher than the US. It just unseated Honduras for this dubious distinction (15 times higher than the US), with Guatemala (7 times higher) not far behind. El Salvador has the highest rate of gender-based violence in the world. The United Nations documents that children fleeing these countries are regularly subjected to gang violence and sexual assault.

Moreover, the US bears great responsibility for the instability in Central America. Years of US intervention have consistently undermined democratic governments in this area. Insatiable demand for narcotics by US consumers has financed the development of the drug gangs that perpetrate much of the violence. Additionally, many of the high-powered firearms used by these gangs are trafficked from the US due to lax American gun laws.

Furthermore, border security is at its highest in decades with more Border Patrol agents stationed than at any time in history, while the number of people crossing the border is at its lowest number in decades. Secretary Johnson himself noted, “With the exception of one year, (FY 2015) was the lowest number of apprehensions on our southern border since 1972”

Now is not the time to cave in to the politics of fear.

We are refusing to protect blameless families from violence and instability that the US government has done much to create.

President Obama should immediately stop deporting families fleeing violence in Central America and uphold longstanding refugee protections by taking the following actions:

  1. Protect people who qualify for DACA and DAPA from deportations.
  2. Expand Temporary Protected Status to individuals in the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
    Conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras more than justify a current TPS designation.
  3. Expand the CAM program.
    On December 1, 2014, the U.S. State Department announced the official launch of an in-country refugee processing program for some children in certain Central American countries known as the Central American Minor Program or “CAM”. The program allows parents with lawful presence in the United States to apply for their children living in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras to come to the United States as refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Children who do not meet the definition of a refugee, but are still at risk of harm, may be eligible on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States safely and legally as humanitarian parolees. We believe the CAM program is too limited in scope to meet current needs. At this time, the CAM program is available only to children determined to be in danger of persecution who have parents with lawful presence in the United States. This limited scope restricts protection to a very small segment of the children who desperately need it. We urge President Obama to expand eligibility for the CAM program to include vulnerable populations such as at-risk children and families without family members with lawful presence in the United States.
  4. Improve safety mechanisms for children and families applying for the CAM Program.
    Many children face danger when applying for the CAM program in their home country. We urge President Obama to put in place safety mechanisms to ensure child applicants and their families are safe while their cases make their way through the in-country application process, including providing transportation and safe shelter to applicants who live outside capital cities where processing takes place.
  5. Improve CAM application processing time.
    Currently, applicants must wait for several months to complete the CAM process. Processing times must be improved and an expedited processing system should be developed for high-risk cases.
  6. Engage community-based organizations on the CAM program.
    The Office of Refugee Resettlement lacks the necessary funding and resources to process CAM applications. We urge President Obama to direct his administration to partner with experienced, community-based organizations with deep roots and knowledge of the target community on the application process.
  7. We urge the U.S. government, in consultation with Central American partners, to develop a comprehensive regional humanitarian response plan.
    The U.S. government should work with Central American governments to address the root causes of the violence in Central America as well as strengthen the regional protection system so that children and migrants have better access to asylum, humanitarian visas and anti-trafficking systems across the region.
  8. Ensure due process protections are in place in accordance with traditional values of American justice.
    Individuals in adversarial proceedings should have an attorney. Expedited hearings for unaccompanied children and mothers with children, so-called “rocket dockets”, do not allow enough time to find an attorney or prepare their case. Every individual, including unaccompanied minors, should have legal representation in immigration proceedings – if necessary, at government expense.
  9. All individuals should receive appropriate screening for humanitarian relief by trained, experienced personnel.
    There are widespread reports of inadequate screening for asylum and other humanitarian relief by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. We urge President Obama to increase training and accountability mechanisms to ensure those seeking refuge receive adequate protections as required by international and domestic law.
  10. Appoint child advocates for vulnerable children.
    Federal law permits the appointment of child advocates for child trafficking victims and other vulnerable unaccompanied children. Their role is to advocate for the best interests, safety and well being of a child. Child advocates are particularly necessary for infants and toddlers who are too young to seek the advice of an attorney, or for other children who may lack capacity to make informed decisions about their cases.


Cindy Estrada, Vice President, United Auto Workers International
Marge Faville Robinson, Service Employees International Union, Michigan State Council
Bishop Donald Kriess, Southeast Michigan Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Bishop Craig Satterlee, Northwest Michigan Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Bishop Wendell Gibbs, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
State Representative Stephanie Chang
Arturo Reyes, UAW 1-D CAP Council
AJ Freer, UAW Local 600, Dearborn
Rev. Fred Thelen, Cristo Rey Catholic Church, Lansing
Rev. Paul Perez, Office of Mission and Social Justice, Detroit Annual Conference, United Methodist Church
Rev. Mollie Clements, United Methodist Church, Kalamazoo
Rev. Matthew Bode, Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church, Detroit
Rev. Guilford Flatt, Bethel Luterhan Church, St. Clair Shores
Rev. John Negele, Christ Lutheran Church, Waterford
Rev. Scott Sessler, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Livonia
Rev. Sara Freudenberg, Trinity Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor
Rev. Alan Casillas, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Imlay City
Rev. Claudine Olivia, 1st Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint
Rev. Campbell Lovett, Michigan Conference, United Church of Christ
Sister Karen Donahue, Sisters of Mercy
Sister Sarah Nash, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, Monroe
Professor James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit
Joshua Dunn, Voces of Battle Creek
Professor Ruben Martinez, MI ALMA
Liz Balck, Justice for Our Neighbors, Grand Rapids
Ayesha Ghazi, Asian American Citizens for Justice
Margaret Harner, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights
Anita Peek, Rosa Parks Institute
Commissioner Sonya Hernandez, Michigan Hispanic & Latino Commission
Susan Reed, Michigan Immigrants Rights Center
Katherine White, Immigration Connection, City Life Church
Theresa Tran, APIA – Vote
Sylvia Orduno, Michigan Welfare Rights
Garret Garcia, Michigan Dreamers
Lidia Reyes Flores, Latino Family Services, Detroit
Reem Subei, American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee
Ryan Bates, Michigan United
Gloria Rivera, Great Lakes Bioneers
Emily Diaz Torres, Michigan Immigrant Service Center
Peri Stone-Palquist, Student Advocacy Center, Ann Arbor
Progress Michigan
Nadia Tonova, National Network for Arab American Communities
John Philo, Sugar Law Center, Detroit