Detroit's May Day March was so huge that from this vantage point at the front, one could not see the end. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Dozens march to Obama campaign office to protest harassment in Latino-populated Detroit
7:00 PM, October 20, 2012
By Megha Satyanarayana
Free Press Staff Writer
Dozens of families marched 4 miles from Clark Park to President Barack Obama’s Detroit campaign office Saturday to protest what they call harassment and terror tactics by U.S. immigration officers in Latino-populated parts of southwest Detroit.
Prompted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions last week that included the questioning and detaining of Latino parents before and after dropping children off at local schools like Cesar Chavez Academy, the group called Saturday for Obama to curtail what they described as racial profiling.
“Cesar Chavez is a pillar of the community,” said Joyce Schon, a lawyer who represents BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights By Any Means Necessary. “This is just wrong.”
BAMN is calling for weekly marches leading up to the November election.
ICE officials responded Saturday, saying one man was arrested several blocks from the school within the last week, having re-entered the country illegally after a drunken driving conviction and deportation, and was not with his children.
ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein said Saturday that the arrest complied with ICE’s policy “regarding enforcement actions at or near sensitive locations.”
“Since this enforcement action, ICE’s Office of the Public Advocate has maintained an open and constant dialogue with Detroit community stakeholders on their concerns,” said Feinstein in a statement. “The arrest of this priority target in the Detroit metro area adhered to, and was in full compliance of the stated policies and procedures of the agency.”
But Schon said not every arrest is that of somebody who has committed a crime such as DUI.
Her client Francisco Romero-Caspeta,of Detroit faces deportation a second time after being arrested in May while paying a traffic ticket for an expired license. He has a wife and five children, Schon said, and his first deportation was 13 years ago. Schon said since reentering the country, he has built a life for his family and contributed to the economy.
“Over 60% of ICE cases are these cases, and they claim they are removing criminals,” she said. “I don’t think the American people thought that people like Francisco were the ones being thrown out.”
ICE officials could not immediately comment on Romero-Caspeta’s case, but residents of southwest Detroit who were present at the rally said they could identify and were scared.
An 11-year-old Cesar Chavez Academy student born in the U.S. was at the rally Saturday and said she was scared to think what would happen if her parents were deported and she was suddenly responsible for her baby brother. Her father is in construction, and her mother stays at home. If her parents were forced to leave, there would be no guarantee any of her family members could care for her.
“All my aunts have the same problem,” she said of legal status.
Gilberto Vasquez, 32,was born and raised in southwest Detroit and said he knows of people who are not here legally. He said one woman quit her job out of fear and has heard of ICE officers questioning parents outside schools and churches.
That woman, he said, is scared to walk her children to school.
When the marchers arrived at President Obama’s campaign office, said Schon, they told campaign workers of their complaints.
The workers were unable to help them, she said.
Contact Megha Satyanarayana: 313-222-8767 or firstname.lastname@example.org