Tag Archives: lansing

Pilgrimage to keep immigrant families together stops at ISKCON temple

Families of Cile Precetaj and Ded Rranxburgaj fight deportation to Albania

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ded Rranxburgaj Sends Off Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER

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

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

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

MONDAY 5/14

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

Speakers: Ded Rranxburgaj, Flora Rranxburgaj, Rev. Jill

Walk with us:  11:30AM-5:00PM

10.9 Miles – Up Grand River Ave. to Evergreen Road

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

provided by Arthur and Mary Park

5:00PM Event:   Supporting Immigrants in Detroit

Brightmoor Aldersgate UMC, 2065 Outer Drive West, Detroit

Speakers: Flora Rranxburgaj, ABISA

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

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

TUESDAY 5/15

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

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

Walk with us:  11:00AM-6:00PM

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

Farmington. Lunch will be provided.

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

ISKCON Farmington Hills Temple, 36600 Grand River Ave, Farmington

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

Dinner provided by Birmingham Temple

WEDNESDAY 5/16

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

Walk with us:  10:00AM-6:00PM

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

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

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

Dinner provided by Indivisible Huron Valley

THURSDAY 5/17

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

Walk with us:  12:00PM-6:00PM

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

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

First UMC, 400 E Grand River Ave, Brighton

Speakers: Ded & Flora Rranxburgaj (Skype)

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

FRIDAY 5/18

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

Walk with us:  11:00AM-6:00PM

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

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

Speakers: Ded and Flora Rranxburgaj (Skype)

SATURDAY 5/19

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

Walk with us:  12:00PM-4:30PM

7.8 Miles – Up Grand River Ave from Howell to Fowlerville

SUNDAY 5/20

8:30AM Event:   Mass and Coffee Hour

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

Walk with us:  10:30AM-4:30PM

11.6 Miles – Up Grand River Ave from Fowlerville to Williamston

MONDAY 5/21

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

Walk with us:  11:00AM-5:00PM

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

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

All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Road, East Lansing

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

TUESDAY 5/22

Walk with us:  10:00AM-12:00PM

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

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

 

Immigrant Families & Advocates Press for Rights at May Day Rally

Coalition demands rights for all working families

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

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

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

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

Rep. Hoadley, Sen. O’Brien honored as 2018 Care Champions

State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and State Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Kalamazoo) were announced as Care Champion awardees by Caring Across Generations, a national care giving advocacy campaign.

Rep. Hoadley was recognized for being the chief sponsor of the Long-Term Care Study Bill (HB 4674) which would do a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan, so that we have the research necessary to make informed decisions around long-term care in a state whose population is aging rapidly. The bill has bipartisan support and over forty co-sponsors, including Rep. Hoadley, who gave testimony on it during a hearing in the Health Policy Committee in the fall of 2017.

Senator O’Brien was recognized due to her support for in-home caregivers and families providing care, such as care for children, elderly parents or disabled family members. In particular, her bill, SB 749, passed in the Senate in 2018 to allow, beginning in tax year 2018, a Michigan income tax credit for dependent care that mirrors the one offered at the federal level.

“More and more families are struggling with how to care for our loved ones while making ends meet, but our policies are lagging far behind the reality of what Americans need,” said Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations. “Luckily, we have care champions like Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien, who are showing us what is possible when principled leadership is coupled with bold policy solutions. We need more elected officials like Rep. Hoadley and  Senator O’Brien to call for making our care infrastructure strong enough for the 21st century.”

“For years, Rep. Hoadley and Senator O-Brien have been legislators we can count on to support the Caring Majority. We’re pleased to be able to honor Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien for their work, and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that all of us who need care and all of us who provide that care get the support we need,” said Ryan Bates, Executive Director of Michigan United, a partner of Caring Across Generations in Michigan.

“I am excited and honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the folks who are doing work to protect the Caring Majority,” says Rep. Hoadley. “The Long-Term Care Study Bill is both the right thing to do for our citizens and taxpayers of Michigan. I hope we can continue to build momentum to sign this bill into law.”

Act now to protect the vote!

Tell Gov. Snyder to veto suppression laws

As we learned in grade school, our democracy works best when everyone has a voice. Somehow, many of our lawmakers never learned this lesson.

During their lame duck session, our state legislature has rushed through house bills 6066, 6067 & 6068, known to many as the Voter Suppression Legislation of 2016. Supposedly these bills would prevent in-person voting fraud, despite the fact that out of a billion votes cast  since the turn of the century, there have only been 31 cases of voter fraud NATIONWIDE. On the other hand, one study found that 11% of Americans don’t have identification that would allow them to vote under the proposed legislation. And those most at risk of disenfranchisement are the most vulnerable: the poor, seniors, new voters, people of color and people with disabilities.

If lawmakers really cared about voting, they would make it easier, not harder, by allowing automatic voter registration and early voting. If they were really concerned about restoring confidence in the system, they would replace outdated balloting technology. But instead, the outgoing session is trying to rig the system for partisan political gain.

Click here to tell Gov. Snyder to veto these bills

There’s still time to stop voter suppression. Governor Snyder can do the right thing and veto these anti-democratic bills. But this won’t happen without a powerful public outcry. CLICK HERE to sign the petition to stop these voter suppression bills.  When you do, you will send an email directly to the Governor that you can personalize to tell him why protecting the right to vote is so important to you.

And just like voting, petitions work best when everyone has a chance to voice their opinion. Please forward this email to all of your friends in Michigan. Time is short, but if just two of your friends forward it on to their friends, we can build the momentum needed to protect the right for everyone in the state to vote.

 Drive home the message with a phone call

Join our virtual phone bank on Facebook. Can you call once? Mark yourself as interested. Can you call three times? Mark yourself as attending. Are you awesome and want to call six or more times? Post on the page about how awesome you are.

CLICK HERE to RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook. Let’s keep up the pressure, keep the Governor’s phones ringing and his inbox filled until we know that everyone’s right to vote has been protected.

Kalamazoo County Commission votes in support of ‘Drivers Licenses for All’ bills

Pending legislation in Lansing would restore driving privileges for thousands of undocumented immigrants living in Michigan

The Kalamazoo County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday night in support of restoring driving privileges for undocumented immigrants living in Michigan. House Bills 5940 and 5941, dubbed the ‘Drivers Licenses for All’ bills, were introduced in September by Michigan State Representatives Harvey Santana (D), Dave Pagel (R), and Stephanie Chang (D).

img_20161018_18554532130 members of Michigan United attended the Commission meeting to support the resolution. One of them, Kim Hilton, a chemistry professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, weighed in before the commission’s vote. “I’m not sure why it is that just by me being born here and someone else not being born here, I somehow get treated as more of a human being,” said Hilton. “It’s like having a group of hardworking students in a classroom, and making one group move to the back where they can’t really hear what you’re saying. They’re just as smart, just as eager to learn, just as capable, but now you’ve made it much, much harder for them to do what all the students are working to do.”

Nelly Fuentes, an organizer with Michigan United told the commission “I invite you to recognize these values in yourself and vote in favor of the resolution that will give immigrants the opportunity to drive to their places of worship, drive their children to school, drive to their places of employment, and drive to local businesses making Kalamazoo’s economy stronger.”

Michigan used to allow undocumented residents to have driver’s licenses until 2008 when Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reversed the policy. There are currently over 600 thousand immigrants in the state of Michigan, roughly 120 thousand of them are undocumented, many of which work in Michigan’s $100 billion dollar a year agriculture industry.

Despite the bipartisan origin of the ‘Drivers Licenses for All’ bills, the commission voted 6-5 in a straight party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. After the vote, County Commissioner Kevin Wordelman expressed his disappointment. “Immigration is not a partisan issue, and making it a partisan issue only leads to disaster,” said Wordelman. ”The sooner we can decouple this issue from partisanship, the better. I hope we can start to have constructive conversations. But what I would like to see in coming days and years is Democrats and Republicans coming together on this issue.”

“In this political climate, we need more than ever to remember what it means to love one another,” said Lizbeth Fuentes, a member of Michigan United.  “If you are a person of Christian faith, I invite you to ask yourself What Would Jesus Do if it was in his hands to help his foreign neighbor?”

Parents take over Michigan House Speaker’s office to demand childcare

State just days away from losing $20 million in federal matching funds

Parents and their children stood their ground this afternoon as they demanded that Michigan’s Speaker of the House, Kevin Cotter put childcare funding on the agenda before it’s too late. Michigan stands to lose out on $20.5 million in federal matching funds if they fail to come up with qualifying plan of their own. The deadline is September 30th and Speaker Cotter has not yet responded to calls to address the issue in the days remaining in this session.

Parents took over Speaker Cotter’s office for a colorful demonstration featuring their kids’ stuffed animals and readings from childrens books.

Kiava Stewart, mother of 2 from Detroit asks to meet with Speaker Cotter to discuss the need for childcare assistance in Michigan
Kiava Stewart, mother of 2 from Detroit asks to meet with Speaker Cotter to discuss the need for childcare assistance in Michigan

“Our families are really suffering from the high cost of child care. Speaker Cotter is about to let $20 million that could help us slip through his fingers.”  said Kiava Stewart, a mother of two from Detroit “Our kids should be his top priority.”

The parents were organized by Michigan United, a progressive, statewide group that recently took part in a national conference on childcare held in Lansing. They pointed to a report issued by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) that shows fewer and fewer children in Michigan are getting child care assistance through federal Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG). Today, only one in five children eligible for child care assistance in Michigan gets any help. Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native children are even less likely to receive child care assistance.

“It’s inconceivable how our lawmakers continue to let this money slip through their fingers year after year when there are so many families who need this help right now.” said Amber York, who is also a mother of two from Detroit.  “Time is short. They need to step up right now and show their commitment to improving outcomes our kids.”

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Advocates Hail Introduction of Bill to Restore Drivers Licenses to All, Including Undocumented Immigrants

Representatives Stephanie Chang and Harvey Santana announced the introduction of a bill Monday to restore drivers licenses for all in Michigan, including undocumented immigrants.

“Everyone deserves the right to drive and have ID. When you can’t get a license, your whole life is smaller. ” said Michigan United member Celia Martinez of Detroit. “Taking the kids to school is a terrifying risk. Getting medical care or even a library card is difficult or impossible. Michigan should welcome immigrants by bringing back drivers licenses for all.”

Licenses were stripped from undocumented drivers in Michigan in 2008.

12 states and Washington DC currently offer licenses to all, including the most recent additions of Illinois and California.

Providing drivers licenses to all would increase safety on our state’s roadways. Properly licensed, immigrant drivers will need to pass a drivers test, get insurance and pay registration fees. Overall, this would reduce accidents and increase tax revenues.

 

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