- Stop the raids at schools, churches, homes and jobs
- All human beings are legal
By Diane Bukowski
October 30, 2012
DETROIT – Families from Detroit’s southwest side are rallying to stop rampant raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), including the recent arrest of a father dropping his child off at Cesar Chavez Academy and the attempted detainment of parents dropping another child off at a Head Start Program.
Another father seized by ICE, Alfredo Avila-Mendez, is awaiting a pre-trial hearing Nov. 6 and trial Nov. 8 in front of U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook. Francisco Romero-Caspeto was found guilty of illegal re-entry into the U.S. October 17, and is awaiting sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Marianne O. Battani on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. at the U.S. Federal Courthouse on Lafayette in downtown Detroit, according to court documents.
(Click on Francisco and Alfredo RALLY for flier describing their situations. Both men had been in the country for many years, are married with children, and were working to support their families and pay taxes.)
Attorneys George Washington, Shanta Driver, and Joyce Schon, all affiliated with the national Coalition for Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), are representing the men in court.
“The President has claimed that ICE and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) will only target undocumented people for deportation who pose a ‘threat to society,” said Manuel Mendez, an organizer for the By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) coalition.
“Yet they are detaining and criminalizing thousands of innocent people whose only so-called ‘crime’ is crossing the border for a better life, just as the ancestors of most Americans did in the past. If this is not the administration’s policy, we demand that the President send out a clear message by firing Detroit ICE Director Rebecca Adducci immediately.”
To date, families including mothers and children deprived of their husbands and fathers have gathered in Clark Park at rallies Oct. 20, 27, and 28. They said ICE has been showing up not only at schools, but churches, homes and workplaces.
“Two months ago, ICE picked up my husband,” Arecely R. said, weeping. “I want them to let him out and stop harassing people. His family, me and our three children, need his support. He is hard-working, responsible and dedicated. We have to join together to stop this. We have a lot of support in the community.”
Western High School student Lydia M. also broke down crying as she said that her grandmother in Mexico is very sick.
“My father really wants to go see his mother, but he is scared that if he does, he will not be able to come back home to us. I am so proud of my sister who is going to law school. She wants to be an immigration lawyer. I want her to go for that dream.”
Another speaker who attends the University of Berkley California said that people there have mobilized a direct action system to stop the ICE raids.
“We had an alert system for when ICE was coming to our school,” he said. “We would surround the student they were looking for with a lot of students so that they couldn’t single out the individual. We need to do the same thing here, to stop ICE from showing up anywhere they please. President Obama’s program to allow students to apply for deferred action is very limited, but it can become a pathway for citizenship.”
Benjamin Royal reminded the crowd of the spring of 2006, when massive rallies for immigrant rights across the U.S. defeated right-wing anti-immigrant legislation in the U.S. Congress.
“We must build a movement independent of the Democrats and Republicans to demand equality for all people, and put an end to this policy of kidnapping and deporting our friends, neighbors and family members,” Royal said.
BAMN attorney Monica Smith co-chaired the rally with Issamar Almaraz translating for Spanish-speakers.
The two read a position paper in both English and Spanish to the crowd. (Click on ICE flier to read entire statement.)
“With only a few weeks remaining until the elections, a mobilization of the Latina/o and immigrant communities can send a message to the President, who is commander of the ICE, that he call off his dogs now,” the two said. “The President or one of his cabinet members could, with a single phone call, end the ICE harassment we face everyday.”
As world-renowned activist and author Angela Davis told a crowd in Detroit Oct. 24, the two said that the people’s power at the polls pales in comparison to the real power communities possess.
“When we stand together, documented and undocumented and take to the streets, we can change the course of history, not just the outcome of a single election,” they said. “Those without a vote—the youth, the undocumented and others, have more social power acting together than individual voters in our communities can cast. . . .Just a few of us need to rival the boldness of the ICE to begin to loosen the fear imposed by them on the majority of people in Southwest Detroit.”
For more information on the growing movement to stop ICE terror on Detroit’s southwest side, contact organizers Monica Smith at 313-585-3637, and Issamar Almaraz (Spanish speaker) at 313-421-2513 or
The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) at 855-ASK-BAMN (855-275-2266), firstname.lastname@example.org. www.BAMN.com and twitter: @followbamn.