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The Matrix of ICE in Kent County: Opportunities for Organizing and Resistance

October 8, 2018

A recent article in the monthly publication, In These Times, had excellent information and analysis on the corporations that have contracts with ICE. 

The article focuses mostly on the immigration detention facilities and all the businesses that are complicit with ICE violence against the immigrant community. The number of businesses complicit with ICE in regards to detention is pretty astounding, as you can see from the graphic here below.

This matrix of private collusion with Immigration and Customs Enforcement got me thinking about how many private and public entities have a contractual relationship with ICE in Kent County.

We have known for the past six months now, that the Kent County Sheriff’s Department has had a contract with ICE since 2012. This contract was renewed in 2017, but has been challenged by the immigrant community and some allies since June of 2018 to end the contract with ICE.

On October 1st, Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE organized a protest for the national NoBusinessWithICE day. The target of the action on October 1st was the Edmark Developement Company, which is located at 161 Ottawa Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids. The reasons for targeting Edmark, is because they rent to the Department of Homeland Security in their Water’s Center building.

However, there are many more entities that are complicit with ICE in Kent County. First, there are at least two other ICE offices in Grand Rapids (that we know of), both of which lease space from private companies.

The ICE office at 517 Ottawa Ave. NW, just north of 196, is owed by FMS Property Management LLC. FMS Property Management LLC has their office right next door, located at 525 Ottawa Ave. NW.

The other ICE office is located at 545 Michigan St. NE on the Medical Mile. This is a new ICE office, which deals with people who have been arrested or detained at on point, but are now no longer in custody, but need to check in with ICE regularly so that the agency can keep tabs on them until the courts decide their fate. This ICE office is owned by NAI Wisniski of West Michigan

In addition to office space that ICE rents in Kent County, there are numerous other private entities that are listed on the graphic above, which also operate in Kent County. First, there is Aramark, the food service company that operates across the country and has numerous contracts with ICE detention facilities. Aramark also happens to have a contract with the Kent County Jail.

Then there is GPS, which makes the ankle trackers that many ICE arrestees must wear so that ICE can keep tabs on them. Those who work with the GR Rapid Response to ICE project are aware of several people who have been arrested by ICE and asked for their assistance, that must wear these GPS trackers.

Another company listed on the above graphic is Akal Security Inc. Akal Security Inc. is another national entity that works closely with government law enforcement. According to their website, they have an office a 1 Division Ave NW in Grand Rapids, which interestingly enough is the building that houses the GRPD.

There is also the G4S company, which is an international corporation that has contracts with ICE. G4S also has an office in Grand Rapids, located at 1444 Michigan St NE, a few blocks east of Fuller, where they rent space in a small office complex.

Lastly, there is the Keefe Group, which has a contract with ICE to provide financial services. The Keefe Group has an office located just off of Kraft Ave SE and 32nd St, just off of highway 96.

Organizing and Resistance Opportunities

It is bad enough that ICE operates in Kent County and is doing serious harm to immigrant families on a weekly basis. However, with more information about the private and public entities that are complicit with ICE, through contractual agreements, his provides us with greater opportunities to organize, resistance and eventually abolish ICE’s presence in Kent County.

Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE are already committed to working on reducing ICE harm to immigrant families in Kent County. These two grassroots and autonomous groups are also working on a campaign to end the ICE contract with Kent County and we exposed the relationship between the Edmark Development Company on NoBusinessWithICE day on October 1st.

However, we need more people and organizations to be part of this movement to kick ICE Out of Kent County. We need a multi-pronged attack against ICE and in order to do that we need people who can commit to doing education, organizing and contributing funds to Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE. We need people who are willing to confront the other entities listed in the Matrix of ICE in Kent County.

For instance, GVSU also has a food service contract with Aramark. If GVSU students, faculty or staff would join the campaign to kick ICE out of Kent County by informing people on campus, boycotting Aramark or resisting other ways, that would be an important contribution for this movement.

In many ways, the effort to abolish ICE is similar to the current BDS campaign, which is seeking to win justice for Palestine, but it is also similar to the South African Anti-Apartheid campaign, which was a significant part of the process to defeat the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. The South African anti-Apartheid Movement took decades to eventually win and the Palestinian BDS campaign is nearing a decade of organizing. However, like all social movements, these struggles take time and we need people who are committed to the long fight. If you are interested, contact Movimiento Cosecha GR or GR Rapid Response to ICE. Hasta La Huelga!

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