Federal judge not swayed by outpouring of support from the community
Family, friends and supporters of Brandon Reyes were disappointed Friday by the decision of an immigration judge to deny the one time DACA recipient bond while he awaits removal proceedings. The ruling was made in spite of the 16 people who traveled across the state from Grand Rapids to be present in the courtroom and the 72 documents and letters from members of his community who wanted to see him released. Afterwards, a group of immigrant activists from across the state gathered outside the McNamara Federal courthouse to decry the outcome and pledge to fight on.
“We are here to make sure that though they are separated from their loved ones, they are not here to face these traumatizing ordeals alone,” said Westlin Gray Sullivan, a volunteer with the Grand Rapids group, GR Rapid Response to ICE. Earlier this month, they were able to raise the $4,000 needed to post bond for Brandon’s mother, Marilú Parra-Velázquez who was swept up by ICE when they came for her son.
In his hearing, the judge said that while Brandon was not a flight risk, he still posed a danger because of his conviction on operating under the influence. “This is despite the fact that Brandon has no other record and in the 9 months since the arrest, he has not reoffended nor touched alcohol and has been under supervised probation,” said Diego Bonesetti, Legal Services Director for Michigan United who was in the courtroom for the hearing. He said Brandon has a hearing for withholding of removal set for May 22nd. Brandon has reserved appeal on the bond decision and GR Rapid Response to ICE has begun a fundraiser, tinyurl.com/FreeBrandonsFamily, to help the family with legal expenses and the cost of his bond in the event he win his appeal.
Many see the treatment of Brandon and his mother as endemic of the lives of many immigrants today, documented and otherwise. The Kent county sheriff's department is still reeling from the scandal that erupted after a US citizen was held at the request of ICE for 3 days. “It has to stop. The racial profiling, the fear that is happening in our communities is immense and we need to fight together right now because we can’t stand to have one more family separated,” said Cindy Gamboa of Movemiento Cosecha Detroit. “I know people who live in fear and kiss their kids goodbye every morning... because they just don’t know if they’re going to be able to come home to them at the end of the day.”