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ACLU and MIRC confront ICE and the GRPD on their arrest and detention of former Marine and Citizen

January 24, 2019

As we reported, last week Kent County made national news over the arrest and detention of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a former US soldier and citizen. 

Shortly after this incident, the Grand Rapids Police Department issued a statement, a statement which angered many people. Here is that statement from the GRPD:

In addition, an unnamed ICE official also made a statement, which was equally appalling in the detention of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez.

Now the ALCU and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) has sent letters to ICE and the GRPD challenging them on the arrest and detention of the former Marine, in an attempt to get some answers and to call them out publicly for their inexcusable behavior.

The letter sent to the GRPD and to Mayor Bliss reads in part:

The GRPD’s evasive public statement raises more questions than it answers. The GRPD asserted that because the incident for which Mr. Ramos-Gomez was arrested involved federal airspace, the GRPD contacted federal authorities. We appreciate that there are situations where it is appropriate to coordinate with relevant federal law enforcement agencies. But why did the GRPD contact ICE? ICE is the federal agency responsible for immigration enforcement, and the GRPD had Mr. Ramos-Gomez’s U.S. passport, license, military ID, and U.S. Marine Corps tags. What made the GRPD think that Mr. Ramos-Gomez was illegally present in the United States? Would the GRPD have called ICE if Mr. Ramos-Gomez were white and his name was John Smith? How many times does the GRPD call ICE on members of our community and how many of them are people of color? Former GRPD Chief David Rahinsky has publicly represented that GRPD is not concerned with immigration status and does not target immigrants.1 But that was not true in Mr. Ramos-Gomez’s case. And we, along with many members of the community, believe it is frequently not true in other cases. We demand an explanation as to why the actual practice of the GRPD here diverged from its public statements. We also demand transparency about GRPD’s actual practices with respect to ICE, including public disclosure of data on the number and nature of GRPD-ICE interactions.

The letter that the ACLU and MIRC sent to ICE also is demanding an investigation as well as greater transparency in cases related to West Michigan. Here are some excerpts from that letter:

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of the decision made by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department to change their policy on ICE holds, where they will now require ICE to obtain a judicial warrant in order for the Kent County Jail to hold people who are in their custody.

All of this further demonstrates the power of the grassroots effort led by Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE since June of 2018, when these two groups demanded that Kent Count end their contract with ICE.

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