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URGENT – ICE Agents engaged in Fugitive Operations in Grand Rapids right now!

August 4, 2017

Since at least last Sunday, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have been engaged in what they refer to as Fugitive Operations. Fugitive Operations is when ICE agents have a list of people they want to target who are undocumented, often with minor offenses like driving without a license.

These Fugitive Operations create a climate of terror in the immigrant community, which always experiences tremendous amount of fear. Some people don’t want to leave their homes for fear of being picked up by ICE agents. Parents fear that ICE agents will take them, leaving their children to come home and not knowing where there parents are.

I work with the Rapid Response to ICE team in Grand Rapids. We have been made aware of at least 6 cases of ICE agents taking people throughout the greater Grand Rapids area.

On Sunday, ICE agents attempted to apprehend a man on the northwest side of Grand Rapids. Fortunately, he knew not to open the door and then contacted people to come to his aid. For now, he and his family are safe, but they live in constant fear that ICE agents will find them.

Over the next few days, the Rapid Response to ICE team received several more calls about ICE agents taking people from their families and putting them in detention in Calhoun County at the Battle Creek Detention Facility.

Some people can request a bond to get their family member out, but the bond is usually set at $5,000. The Rapid Response to ICE team has been asked to help raise funds for some of these families.

Yesterday, I received a call from a pastor of a church in the Wyoming area. Another immigrant had been taken by ICE agents and his wife, who is also undocumented, now fears for her life. Fortunately, the church had volunteers stay at the home with this woman, so that she would not be alone and at risk of being taken by ICE.

The same pastor told me of several other cases in his congregation of immigrants who have either had a family member taken in the past week or have been given orders to appear in court for their check-in. If people don’t go to their check ins, they put themselves at greater risk of being detained and deported. However, we know that at more and more places around the country, when people do court check-ins, they are often being apprehended by ICE agents right after going to their appointment.

The immigrant community in Grand Rapids is under siege right now and we can not sit by idly and do nothing. There are numerous ways that people can be in solidarity with those most at risk of being targeted by ICE agents.

  • You can be part of the Rapid Response to ICE. To be part of this effort, you need to attend a training. The next training is Tuesday, August 22nd from noon til 2pm at Plymouth UCC, located at 4100 Kalamazoo SE. Here is a link to the next next Rapid Response to ICE Training on Facebook, which provides more details. 
  • You can help us distribute these cards, which are in Spanish and English and provides information on what to do if ICE Agents show up at your door. Cut and paste this jpeg version of what we are handing out. If you want hard copies of the card, contact me at jsmith@griid.org.

  • You can help us distribute these cards throughout the community and have conversation with your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors about the fact that every day people are being picked up by ICE agents, taken from their families and being out into detention.
  • You can do what the pastor of the church in Wyoming is doing, which is to build relationships with immigrants and offer solidarity when you can, like the example of volunteers staying with the woman who was vulnerable to ICE agents. We need to look out for each other.
  • You can offer hospitality or sanctuary for people who are being targeted. This is a big issue that we are facing is finding a safe place for people to stay, even if it is just for a few days. Talk to people in your congregation about becoming a sanctuary church in order to prevent more people from being taken by ICE.
  • You can donate money to support legal fees, to help cover rent, groceries and other basic necessities for families that are being threatened by ICE agents. If you want to know where to send me, just ask me and I can share that information.
  • You can also check out resources, like this Defense Against ICE Raids and Community Arrests Toolkit

For those of us who are not at risk of being detained or deported, we need to step up and stand alongside those who are at risk and say, if you take them you are going to have to take us as well.

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