ICE detained immigrant rights activist in Michigan and his mom – Detroit Free Press

Rally held outside federal building for immigrants arrested by ICE as judge sets $4,000 bond for a Grand Rapids mother

Protesters rallied Tuesday outside a federal building in Detroit against the recent arrests of a mother and son by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as a judge set a $4,000 bond for the mother.

Holding signs that read “Stop Separating Families,” immigrant and Latino advocates spoke at the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in downtown Detroit after a hearing in federal immigration court for Marilu Parra-Velazquez, 41, of Grand Rapids.

Parra-Velazquez is currently in custody in Calhoun County jail after ICE agents arrested her in Grand Rapids on Feb. 20 along with her son Brandon Reyes, 22, an immigrant rights activist. 

ICE intended to arrest Reyes since he had been convicted last year on a DUI charge, which invalidated his DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. While detaining Reyes, they also arrested his mother after finding out she was undocumented. Reyes moved to the U.S. when he was 6; he was brought to the country by an adult.

Parra-Velazquez could be released on Wednesday after her bond is paid, said Diego Bonesatti, director of legal services at Michigan United. 

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Both are unlawfully present in the U.S. and are being held in Calhoun County jail, said ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls. “ICE deportation officers arrested unlawfully present Mexican national Brandon Reyes-Parra Feb. 20, without incident near a Grand Rapids residence,” said Walls. “He is presently in ICE custody and has been entered into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts.”

At the rally, supporters of the two said they are missed by their family and the community. Brandon has two younger half-sisters, said a family member.

“Our house has been really empty without Brandon and my aunt,” said Nelly Gudino, of Grand Rapids, a cousin. “Brandon is a role model. … My little cousins are too little to understand what is happening to their older brother and their mom right now.”

Other speakers at the rally decried what they say is targeting of Latino and other minority communities by ICE. 

“Our community is suffering,” said Cindy Gamboa of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. “We demand that it stop now.”

Gamboa said ICE arrests and deportations are causing trauma. 

“Everywhere we turn people are nervous,” she said. “They’re harassing our community.”

Sandy Gaytan, a community organizer with Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, said federal immigrant agents in Detroit are “out of control.”

The protesters called upon Congress to pass immigration reform that would help DACA recipients and others obtain a path to citizenship.

Bonesatti, an immigrant advocate with Michigan United, said that under the Obama administration, ICE “used discretion” and would usually just arrest who they were specifically looking for unless they had an outstanding warrant.

But under the Trump administration, ICE is now also arresting undocumented immigrants they may come across, he said. 

ICE is “Hoovering up anybody they find,” he said. 

The issue of how ICE operates has been debated in recent years, with some activists criticizing the agency and calling to abolish the agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. 

ICE officials have maintained they don’t racially profile and that they don’t do random sweeps of communities. 

Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com or 313-223-4792. Follow him on Twitter @nwarikoo

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