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Vigil to Abolish ICE in Kent County

July 25, 2019

Last night, roughly 80 people came out to participate in a vigil to abolish ICE in Kent County. The action was organized by GR Rapid Response to ICE and was meant to do several things.

First, we wanted to show people one of the locations where ICE operates out of. We chose this location because it is their operational facility, where agents are deployed from to go into our community and rip people from their families.

Second, we wanted to share information about some of the families that ICE has directly impacted through fear and violence, by reading examples and then placing flowers by the ICE building for each person affected.

From our narrative:

We are here at 517 Ottawa Ave NW, one of three ICE offices in Grand Rapids. When our immigrant neighbors are taken by ICE–from their homes, from their cars, on their way to work or to drop their children off at school–this is the office they are taken to. They are taken here before they are sent to detention and deported, just as the Gestapo took Jews from their homes and sent them to concentration camps in Nazi Germany. ICE does their best to terrorize and disappear our neighbors, but we refuse to let this happen again.

Frederick M Steiner is the registered agent of the company that owns the building here, under the corporate name FMS Property Management.  Frederick Steiner is complicit with ICE!

We are here to say Basta Ya! Enough Already! to ICE violence at the border and here in Kent County.

This where ICE agents take our neighbors and friends that they have ripped from the community. This is a stop on the way to being detained and deported for reasons as minor as not having documentation, or driving without a license. ICE–like the Gestapo–attempts to do this without being seen, without interference from the community. But we’re here to say: we see what you are doing. We are witnesses! And we will not let you take our neighbors quietly and without resistance.

We started at the front of the ICE building and then moved to the back, where there are garage entrances that ICE agents use to bring people they have taken from their families.

Again, from our narrative:

We light candles and lay flowers, including Black Eyed Susans, which symbolize Justice, to represent the people whose lives and families have been violently disrupted and torn apart by ICE violence. We will now read aloud the names of these people and say “Presente!” to show that although they are no longer here with their families and friends and in this community, we remember them, and we continue the struggle in their names.

A Guatemalan man, who is the father of four children, was deported earlier this year, leaving the mother to take care of the four children by herself. For him we say……

Two weeks ago, ICE visited the home of a Guatemalan woman, who is the mother of two children. Fortunately she wasn’t home, but no longer feels safe to stay where she was living and left to go stay with friends. For her we say…….

A Salvadoran woman named Juliana called us to tell us her husband was arrested by ICE and is now in detention, leaving her alone to take care of their 3 children. For her husband we say….

In March, a Mexican mother called to tell us that her son was picked up by ICE while he was at work and is now in detention in Battle Creek, not eligible for bond. For him we say……

Last December, Maribel called us to say that ICE had taken her husband. For Maribel and her husband, we say…..

Last year, ICE agents kicked in the door of a home and took Francisco, who is now being held in detention. His wife contacted us about legal assistance. For him we say…..

Last November, we received a call from Lucia, who told us that her husband was picked up by ICE. ICE had been waiting for him to leave the home and then stopped him while driving. He is now in detention. For Lucia and her husband we say……

Last May, we received a call from Juana who told us that her husband had been taken by ICE and put into detention. Juana and her husband have four children, who don’t know when they will see their father again. For Juana and her family we say……

Last April, a mother of two children, who was pregnant at the time of the call, told us that her husband was taken by ICE while on his way to work. For the Diaz family we say…….

Earlier this year, Brandon Reyes, a Dream Student, was deported back to Mexico, even though he had lived most of his life in the US. For Brandon we say……..

These are only 10 examples of at least 80 cases that GR Rapid Response to ICE has been involved with in the past two years. We know that ICE has taken, detained and deported many more from our community. We are here today to say Never Again!!!!

After reading the names of people affected directly by ICE violence, Pastor Rachel, from Plymouth UCC share their thoughts about ICE. Their words were moving and they did not hesitate to call out the Church and Christian for their complicity in what was happening all over the country.

We then let people know about upcoming events and ways that people could get involved. Those in attendance were invited to help to directly intervene when ICE is attempting to take people from our community, to help raise money for families affected by ICE, to offer transportation, to do court solidarity and to help find more places of sanctuary for those who no longer feel safe from ICE in this community.

Once more from our narrative:

We also need more people to be involved in our Abolish ICE efforts. With enough people, we believe that we can rid Kent County of any ICE presence, to say to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security…..you are not welcome here. Nunca Mas! Never Again!

We also want to lift up the work of Movimiento Cosecha GR.  Many if not most of the people who are processed here were caught by the system because the State of Michigan will no longer issue a driver’s license to under-documented folks.  When stopped for a routine traffic stop, such as a faulty tail light, people are initially detained for driving without a license, but then their information is shared with ICE – often ICE catches up with them later and they are processed here.  Cosecha Michigan is fighting for Driver’s Licenses for All, and you can follow their FB page to learn more. 

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