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7 ways to Resist ICE in Kent County

June 19, 2018

One would be hard pressed these days to not know about the increasingly repressive practices of the federal government on immigrants, particularly what the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is doing.

A recent report from the ALCU looks at how US Border Agents engaged in systemic abuse of immigrant children, during the later part of the Obama administration and continuing through the current Trump administration. 

Understandably, people all across the US (and around the world) are outraged by the treatment of immigrant children and the forced separation from their families. This sort of policy is nothing new in terms of US government policy. Separating children from their families has been a long standing practice since the US government participated in legalized slavery and the forced separation of indigenous children from their families, as just two examples.

In response to these revelations, there have been calls for more investigation, petitions and organizations advocating that we contact members of Congress to apply pressure to end the separation of immigrant children from their families. However, these sorts of tactics have not resulted in much change over the years, so we offer more concrete forms of direct action that actually resists what ICE is doing right here in Kent County, Michigan.

  • Educate yourself about the current contract that the Kent County Sheriff’s Department has with ICE. ICE has had a contract with the Kent County Sheriff’s Depart since 2012, which you can find here.  This contract contains information about how much ICE (meaning taxpayers) pays to hold immigrants in the Kent County Jail per day, which means there is a financial incentive for the County to cooperate with ICE.
  • The Kent County Sheriff’s Department signed an extension of this contract with ICE in August of 2017. Some of us working with the GR Rapid Response to ICE project have found out from a Kent County Commissioner that the extension of the contract was not voted on by the commissioners.
  • In March of 2018, Kent County Sheriff, Larry Stelma, signed onto a letter from the National Sheriff’s Association which states the following: 
  • Come to the next GR Rapid Response to ICE monthly training on June 25th, to find out how you can be involved in directly preventing ICE from taking people from our community and other forms of solidarity, along with fundraising to support immigrant families impacted by ICE, including a newly created Community Bond Fund. 
  • Come to the next Kent County Commission meeting to demand that the County end their contract with ICE.  We are meeting at 8am in front of the Calder Plaza for a brief Press Conference, followed by getting as many people as possible to speak during the Kent County Commission meeting to demand that the contract come to an end.
  • Join Movimiento Cosecha GR, an immigrant-led movement that is demanding dignity, respect and permanent protection for all immigrants. They are currently working on a campaign to get driver’s licenses for all in Michigan. One of the main reasons that police stop and detain immigrants is because they don’t have a driver’s license, so the Cosecha GR campaign is make it possible for all people, especially immigrants to be able to obtain a license in the state of Michigan.
  • Like the GR Rapid Response to ICE facebook page, so you can find out about the most recent actions, trainings and ways to support immigrant families impacted by ICE repression.
  • One of the best ways that allies can support immigrants impacted by ICE repression is to contribute money. Most of the people picked up by ICE are the primary income earners, which means that in addition to the trauma of being separated from their families, immigrant families are now unable to pay their rent, provide food for their children or pay utility bills.
  • The GR Rapid Response to ICE project has two funding options for people. First, is what we call our Mutual Aid fund, which primarily goes to pay for immediate needs like rent, utilities, food or health care. To contribute to this fund go to paypal.me/arcarpenter. A second way that people can financially support immigrant families that are impacted by ICE, is to contributed to the newly create I-Bond Fund, which is a fund used to bond out immigrants being held in detention, so that people can be with their families. To contribute to the I-Bond Fund, send checks made out to Joy Like a River United Church of Christ and put bond fund on the check. Mail the checks to Joy Like a River UCC 1841 Havana Ave. SW, Wyoming, MI 49509.
  • Last, we can all resist ICE by working to provide sanctuary for immigrants and immigrant families being targeted by ICE. Right now in Kent County, we only have one church (Joy Like a River UCC) that is a sanctuary. Convince you faith community to be a sanctuary or take people into you home in a less public way.

ICE repression will not end because of pleas we make to politicians. However, we can resist ICE repression by taking direct action to support immigrants and demonstrate solidarity by standing with them in their struggle to be free.

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