Things That Matter

100-Year-Old Church Closes Amid Fear of Immigration Raids

After 100 years of serving parishioners, the All Saints Church in Detroit has closed its doors. On Dec. 31 they held their last mass. Many factors are listed as to why the historic church had to close, including financial issues and a newly constructed highway nearby. However, some point the main cause to immigration raids.

A reverend at a nearby church says a rise in immigration raids impacted attendance, and Latinos stopped showing up.

“ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has an informal agreement that they have affirmed that they will not go into churches and not hassle people going to church,” Rev. Marc Gawronski, a pastor at the neighboring St. Gabriel church, told The Detroit Free Press, adding that despite that agreement, “people are even nervous about being able to get up in the morning and go to church.”

The Latino community has always been a huge part of Michigan’s history, dating back to the early 1900s. They’ve also created roots with the local Catholic churches. But now with increased raids many are not even leaving their homes.

The Detroit Free Press reports that only three people showed up to one of the last Spanish-language masses.

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In 2017, ICE conducted several raids throughout Michigan. Many of the raids have targeted Iraqi nationals, as well Mexicans and South Americans.

Last month, 27 undocumented immigrants were detained by ICE in raids conducted in Western Michigan.

“Operations like this one demonstrate ICE’s continued focus on the arrest of dangerous criminal aliens as well as those who enter the United States illegally,” Rebecca Adducci, field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations in Detroit, said in a released statement. “I applaud the dedicated men and women of ICE who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”

Raids have increased immensely in the area since the election of President Donald Trump.

The ramp up in raids has caused many undocumented immigrants to stay indoors, and even away from sanctuary sites like churches. Some are even afraid to go to work.

In May, three Latino men were detained while working at an upscale restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

All detainees had no criminal background, but were taken because they couldn’t show proper documentation.

In a released statement on the detainments at Sava’s Restaurant, ICE said:

“While conducting a targeted enforcement action at Sava’s restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers encountered and arrested three individuals on immigration violations. Sergio Cardenas Rubio and Jesus Ortiz Hernandez unlawfully entered the United States without inspection at an unknown date and location. Mohamed Souman lawfully entered the country, but did not depart in accordance with the terms of his status. All three are currently in ICE custody.”

All Saints Church opened on Nov. 1, 1896. Only their soup kitchen that feeds hundreds of families will remain open.

“We knew the parishioners were low, and that could contribute to closure,”  Gabriela Bravo told the Detroit Free Press. “But in my case, I was surprised. I was hoping the Archdiocese would do something to save the church.”

People on Facebook had mixed reaction about the closing of the church.

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READ: A Guy In A Fake ICE Jacket Showed Up To A California Church And Took Pictures Of Churchgoers

What do you think of this church closing? Share this story and let us know in the comments below.

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President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

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President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

January 22, 2021

The Trump administration spent years trying to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era program was important in helping young undocumented adults who came to the country when they were children. President Joe Biden has restored it.

President Joe Biden has restored DACA to its original 2012 form.

President Biden was with President Obama when DACA was passed to protect the young adults who benefit from the program. President Biden’s executive order is giving hundreds of thousands of young adults protections and the ability to work once again.

“This memorandum, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidance, deferred the removal of certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have obeyed the law, and stayed in school or enlisted in the military,” reads the memorandum posted on the White House website. “DACA and associated regulations permit eligible individuals who pass a background check to request temporary relief from removal and to apply for temporary work permits. DACA reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns and other considerations and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.”

Original: During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

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In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Photo: Bryan Cox/Getty Images

A bombshell report published in The Guardian alleges that ICE officers are using torture to force Cameroonian asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders. The report paints an even starker picture of Immigration and Customs Enforcement–an agency that is already widely criticized as corrupt and inhumane.

The deportation documents the immigrants have been forced to sign are called the Stipulated Orders of Removal. The documents waive asylum seekers’ rights to further immigration hearings and mean they consent to being deported.

The asylum seekers allege that the torture in ICE custody consisted of choking, beating, pepper-spraying, breaking fingers, and threats on their lives.

“I refused to sign,” recounted one Cameroonian asylum-seeker to The Guardian. “[The ICE officer] pressed my neck into the floor. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ I lost my blood circulation. Then they took me inside with my hands at my back where there were no cameras.”

He continued: “They put me on my knees where they were torturing me and they said they were going to kill me. They took my arm and twisted it. They were putting their feet on my neck…They did get my fingerprint on my deportation document and took my picture.” Other witnesses recount similar violent experiences.

Experts believe that the escalation of deportations is directly related to the upcoming election and the possibility that ICE might soon be operated under a different administration. The theory is that ICE is coercively deporting “key witnesses” in order to “silence survivors and absolve ICE of legal liability.”

“In late September, early October of this year, we began to receive calls on our hotline from Cameroonian and Congolese immigrants detained in Ice prisons across the country. And they were being subjected to threats of deportation, often accompanied by physical abuse,” said Christina Fialho, executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, to The Guardian.

Many of the Cameroonians who are in the U.S. to seek asylum have legitimate claims to danger back in their home countries. Many of these Cameroonians come from an English-speaking minority in Cameroon that are violently target by the government there–some have died. The violence has been condemned by The United Nations and Amnesty International.

As with many immigrant stories of people who are seeking asylum, these immigrants’ lives are in danger in their home country. They are coming to the United States for a better life. But instead, they are faced with the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whom they claim brutally mistreat them.

According to report, the U.S. is deporting entire airplanes full of asylum-seekers back to their home countries–deportations that have not been given due process and have been authorized under duress.

An ICE spokesperson contacted by The Guardian called the reports “sensationalist” and “unsubstantiated” while roundly refuting the claims. “Ice is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody. Ice provides safe, humane, and appropriate conditions of confinement for individuals detained in its custody,” she said.

Read the entire report here.

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