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immigration

Protestors holding signs on Lafayette street in Detroit in solidarity with the Chaldean immigrants who are facing possible deportation back to Iraq.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Iraqi immigrants arrested in a Detroit-area immigration sweep this month cannot be deported for at least the next 14 days, a Detroit federal judge ruled late Thursday.

More than 100 Iraqi nationals were swept up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in raids earlier this month.

The government says they all have standing removal orders and criminal records, and their deportations were imminent. Most had been living in the U.S. for years under ICE supervision.

Protestors holding signs on Lafayette street in Detroit in solidarity with the Chaldean immigrants who are facing possible deportation back to Iraq.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Lafayette Street between Shelby and Washington Boulevard in downtown Detroit was flooded with people supporting several Iraqi-American immigrants facing possible deportation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, arrested these immigrants in metro-Detroit more than a week ago.

Most have criminal records, but have already served time or paid their fines.

Carrie Heichle is the wife of one of the men arrested during the ICE sweeps.

She says her two sons are having a hard time without their dad.

Protestors holding signs in solidarity with the Chaldean immigrants who are facing possible deportation
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Friends and family members of the Iraqi-Americans who are facing possible deportation gathered in Detroit to protest. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons

Last weekend, federal immigration agents took more than 100 Iraqi nationals into custody, with plans to deport most of them. Among the detainees set to be deported are a large number of Chaldeans – a Christian sect. Others are Shiite Muslims. Deporting them to Iraq means they could face persecution in that country.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Michigan has filed a class-action lawsuit to stop the deportations, arguing that the detainees should be given the opportunity to prove they could face torture or death if returned to Iraq.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The A-C-L-U of Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit to stop the deportation of about 100 Iraqi immigrants.

Immigration enforcement officials arrested the immigrants last weekend in a series of raids in the Detroit area. These officials say everyone taken into custody has a criminal record and was ordered removed from the United States.

But Michael Steinberg of the ACLU says many of those orders are decades old. And the situation in Iraq has changed. Many of the immigrants in custody are Chaldean Christians, a group that now faces persecution in Iraq

"Federal law and international treaty forbids the United States from sending individuals back to countries where they face the danger of persecution, torture or death," Steinberg says. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons

It was a traumatic, emotional weekend for the Chaldean community of Metro Detroit. Chaldeans are a Christian minority from the Middle East, mostly from Iraq, and many live in Southeast Michigan.

Skyline of Detroit from the city's west side.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s immigrant population is growing, and a recent study says that's good for the economy.

The New Americans in Detroit report was released today. It found that between 2010 and 2014, more than 4,100 foreign-born individuals moved to the city of Detroit.

The report also says in 2014, immigrants contributed more than $53 million in state and local taxes. Immigrants in Detroit also contributed more than $67 million to Social Security, and $17 million to Medicare.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: One envelope holds her fate. Is she getting deported?

May 30, 2017
Maria Juarez hugs mother-in-law.
Bridge Magazine

Maria Garcia Juarez wandered around the international arrivals area at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday, frantically looking for a government official who held a sheet of paper with her fate written on it.

C/O Karina Valle

UPDATE 5:15 pm

When Karina Valle learned her husband was still being detained in the US on Tuesday morning, and not on a plane back to El Salvador, it was an enormous relief.

"I was a feeling a knot in my stomach up until the ICE officer said 'He's still in Battle Creek [where he's being detained,]'' she says via text. "My soul came back into my body." 

Moments before, Valle had raced with attorney Brad Thomson to file evidence they say proves her husband's deportation order is invalid: post office copies of a hearing notice that are marked "returned to sender," which they hope will convince a judge to reopen Valle Rodriguez's case. 

Thomson says the government has 10 days to respond, at which point a judge will decide whether or not to reopen the case. And he credits immigrations officials for keeping Valle Rodriguez in the US, for now. 

"This case is different...in that ICE chose to utilize their discretion not to deport Jose, until we formally turned in this application," Thomson says. "So today I'm really happy with the Director of ICE, I'm happy with ICE, and I have no complaints at least for the next five minutes," he laughed.

A spokeperson with ICE in Detroit referred media questions to the Executive Office for Immigration Review at the US Department of Justice. 

UPDATE Tuesday, May 30 2017 at 10:20 am 

Immigration attorney Brad Thomson says he was able to file an application to reopen Jose Ricardo Valle Rodriguez's immigration case first thing on Tuesday morning. The minute Thomson got the court's time stamp, he says, an automatic stay of removal was granted temporarily.

That means the US government cannot legally deport Valle Rodriguez at this time, though that could change quickly, depending on whether the case is reopened. 

The non-profit agency Samaritas is the largest resettler of refugees in Michigan.
Courtesy of Samaritas

The number of refugees re-settled in Michigan has dropped sharply over the past six months.

That parallels a larger national trend, according to new analysis of U.S. State Department data from the Pew Research Center.

Pew examined refugee resettlement data from October 2016 through April of this year.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested three workers at an Ann Arbor restaurant Wednesday morning.

The owner of Sava's Restaurant says the ICE agents had breakfast before they went into the kitchen to arrest an employee who wasn't on duty at the time.

Instead, Sava Lelcaj Farah says they began questioning other employees before taking three into custody.

User: Nic Redhead / Flickr

A Michigan activist group is telling immigrants not to attend regular check-ins with immigration officials. That's because some undocumented immigrants are being detained for deportation at these check-ins.

But immigration attorneys say this is bad, and potentially dangerous, advice.

An email sent from the group By Any Means Necessary earlier this week said, "WARNING: BEWARE OF 'SILENT' DEPORTATIONS--DO NOT GO TO 'CHECK IN' WITH I.C.E." 

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A man who's lived in Ann Arbor for nearly 20 years may soon be deported.

Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo was detained by Immigration and Customs enforcement last month during a routine check-in.

He was sent to Louisiana for deportation to Mexico, but a judge granted him a temporary delay on May 1.

Wrapping up at the end of Detroit's cinco de mayo parade route in Clark Park.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Cinco de Mayo celebration took place Sunday, two days after the actual Mexican holiday.

Families lined Vernor Avenue, southwest Detroit’s main thoroughfare, for the annual parade and festivities.

The parade was led by two students from Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Academy. Lourdes Escobedo carried the American flag, “representing the USA, and all the immigrants here in the USA,” while her classmate Stephanie Duran Lopez carried the Mexican flag.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons

An Ann Arbor man who was scheduled to be deported  has been granted a temporary delay.

Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo has lived in Ann Arbor for nearly 20 years with his wife and two children. His lawyer says he's never had a criminal record.

He was detained last month during a routine check-in with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and sent to Louisiana to be deported. 

Supporters of the family rallied in front of ICE offices in Detroit and an Ann Arbor elementary school Sanchez-Ronquillo's son attends. 

Lindsey Smith

A large protest briefly shut down some Grand Rapids streets Monday afternoon. About a thousand people took to the streets, marching three miles from Garfield Park on the city's Southeast side to Calder Plaza downtown. 

Many held signs that said, “Stop separating families.” They chanted for dignity and respect and an end to deportations.

Supporters of Jose Luise Sanchez-Ronquillo rally in front of ICE offices in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Supporters of Jose Luis Sanchez Ranquillo say they expect to know as early as Tuesday if he faces imminent deportation, or has a chance of remaining in the U.S.

The Ann Arbor father of two is fighting to say in the country. 

Family members say Sanchez was detained after what he thought was a routine immigration check-in last week.

That’s not a new thing. But anecdotally, immigration attorneys say it seems to have picked up steam in the early days of the Trump administration.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

Lansing's City Council did an about-face last night. 

The Council reversed its earlier unanimous decision to declare Lansing a "sanctuary city". The 5-2 vote means the city is not a sanctuary for immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants.

The Trump Administration has threatened to punish sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds.

The Michigan and Lansing Chambers of Commerce had been urging Lansing's City Council to rescind that earlier resolution.

Rich Studley, the president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, joined Stateside to explain why they rejected the resolution.

Members of the public submitted public comment for hours before Lansing City Council voted to rescind the resolution naming Lansing a "sanctuary city"
Tyler Scott

At a special meeting Wednesday night, the Lansing city council voted 5-2 to rescind a largely symbolic resolution calling Lansing a “sanctuary city.”

Kathie Dunbar was one of two council members who voted to keep the largely symbolic resolution on the books. She said she was embarrassed by the council’s decision to rescind the measure. The original resolution to become a sanctuary city had been unanimously approved nine days earlier.

street facing Michigan capital
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing has become Michigan’s first official “sanctuary city.” Other cities, such has Detroit, have avoided that declaration and instead use terms such as “immigrant friendly” or “welcoming city." And there's a reason for that.

The term “sanctuary city” could put Lansing at risk of losing federal grants—all of them.

Lansing City Hall building
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office / Flickr

The Michigan and Lansing Chambers of Commerce are urging city council members to rescind a resolution which declares Lansing a "sanctuary city."

In a letter sent to the Lansing City Council Thursday, business leaders wrote that they want the declaration removed because it sends the wrong message.

Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber wrote:

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is taking a stand against the Trump administration’s attack on “sanctuary cities.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The state departments of education and civil rights are asking school administrators to be prepared if immigration authorities arrive at their doors.

Agustin Arbulu is the director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Right now, immigration authorities don’t go to schools. But Arbulu says school officials should know their rights and responsibilities, and be ready to answer parents’ questions.

Karn Bulsuk / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A state of limbo is about to lift for hundreds of Iraqis in the United States. The government tried to deport them after they committed crimes, but Iraq wouldn’t take them back.

Now some of them are headed home – and, quite possibly, into danger.

Trump administration strikes a deal with Iraq

As part of the negotiations surrounding the most recent Trump executive order on immigration, Iraq came off the list of countries whose citizens are barred from entering the U.S.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers
Kit Johnson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been picking up undocumented people, but processing their cases is hitting a bottleneck.

There are not enough immigration judges to handle the additional caseload.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, with Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, discuss Kelly's visit near Detroit's Ambassador Bridge.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A handful of people representing some of Metro Detroit’s immigrant and religious communities met privately with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Monday.

That was one reason for Kelly’s brief visit to Detroit, which also included talk on security and infrastructure along the country’s northern border.

Kelly held small, private meetings with hand-picked members of the Arab, Muslim, and Latino communities. The idea was to air concerns about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies.

Western Michigan University's Main Campus
user TheKuLeR / Wikimedia Commons

A new survey has found that fewer international students are applying to universities in the United States.

The survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers says that nearly 40% of schools received fewer admissions from foreign students this year.

And lower international enrollment rates could harm universities in Michigan.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified what seems to have been a misinterpretation of NAFTA law, which led to a number of Canadian nurses working in Detroit being denied work visa renewals.

The Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System raised concerns last week that some of their nurses has been denied renewals of a type of work visa called a TN visa. Canadian nurses help fill staff shortages in a number of crucial areas.

Patti Kunkel, a Canadian nurse practitioner in Henry Ford Hospital's cardiac intensive care unit, worries that her TN visa may not be renewed.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It appears some Canadian nurses who work in southeast Michigan hospitals may not be able to do so for much longer.

That’s  because some U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seem to have changed their longstanding interpretation of a NAFTA provision allowing those nurses special work visas—though it’s apparently not an agency-wide change in policy.

The NAFTA treaty allows Canadian and Mexican citizens in certain occupations, including registered nurses, specific work visas called TN visas.

michigan state university sign
Branislav Ondrasik / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Around 700 faculty and staff members at Michigan State University say they will not help immigration officials that attempt to apprehend, deport, or determine the immigration status of students.

Staff members have been signing a "Statement of Solidarity," which promises to support students that want to remain in the US.

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