This week, ICE agents approached two immigrant families while they were dropping off their children at Cesar Chavez Academy in Southwest Detroit. One father, Hector Orozco, was dropping off his son when he was arrested, and remains in detention.
Another family was stopped outside the Manuel Reyes Vistas Nuevas Head Start Center. The ICE agent temporarily let the family go so they could drop off their children, and told them they would be detained once they returned home. The family took refuge in the elementary school until advocates could intervene.
This morning, dozens of community leaders rallied outside the elementary school, standing in solidarity with the families targeted by ICE. State Representative Rashida Tlaib responded to calls for help at the school yesterday, and was on hand today to give her statement:
As a community member I am outraged, and as a mother, I am heartbroken. ICE has once again violated their policies, and stopped parents dropping their kids off for school. The leadership of Detroit ICE is either unwilling or unable to control their agents, so that’s why we’re calling for the immediate resignation of Detroit ICE Enforcement Director Rebecca Adducci. We need immediate accountability for this out-of-control department.
Jorge, the father of the family who took refuge in the school, also spoke:
We were taking the children to school, the same as we do every day. The immigration agents stopped my car, and were about to arrest me. Then my son begged them, ‘Please, don’t take my dad. He’s just taking us to school.’ That’s when the agent told me to drop the children off and then come back to my house where he would be waiting. It was terrifying.
It was last-last spring that community leaders in Detroit first joined together to protest the actions of the ICE office there—an ICE branch known for rogue behavior, that is often recognized as one of the most extreme, worst-run ICE offices in the country.
At first, the furor was over a raid that ICE conducted outside of another elementary school—Hope of Detroit Academy, stalking immigrant parents from their houses to the school, arresting parents on the street, trapping parents inside with their terrified children. Attendance at the school dropped as fearful parents refused to risk leaving their homes. As an investigation commenced, more stories surfaced: a mother strip-searched in front of her teenage son, a man shoved so hard into a wall that the plaster cracks, a pregnant woman denied medication.
The Michigan activists met with ICE Director John Morton, who promised to review the cases and respond to the community. ICE promised to better follow their own “Sensitive Community Locations” policy, which mostly prohibits raids and other enforcement tactics near community locations such as schools. But months later, an internal ICE investigation cleared the Detroit ICE agents of any wrongdoing.
And now some pretty recent history is repeating itself.
Today’s rally was supported by representatives from Cesar Chavez Academy, Vistas Nuevas Head Start, the UAW, the Detroit AFL-CIO, Latino Family Services, ACCESS, the Lutheran Synod of Southeast Michigan, Wayne State University Latino Studies, State Voices, the ACLU, State Representative Fred Durhal, and others.