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immigration

U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

President Donald Trump said he wanted to go after “bad hombres,” but his immigration policies affect more than just those who are here and have committed crimes. Undocumented immigrants with no criminal history are also being deported. That's the case with a Michigan father of four who's been told he has to leave the country by the end of the month. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents making arrest in Dearborn.
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

Miguel and Angel are brothers and they pretty much disagree on everything: TV shows, music, games, even the way they dress. But that stuff’s all pretty minor compared to the big disagreement they have over where they should go if their mom is deported back to Mexico.

Miguel is 14-years old and a proud mama’s boy. He says he never wants to separate from his mom and will go with her to Mexico even though he’s only visited there once, when he was three.

Big brother Angel, who's 15, says he wants to stay here in the U.S. and finish studying.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

For the past several days, there have been many, many stories about President Trump’s actions on refugee policy, and his administration’s travel ban for people from 7 Muslim-majority nations.

But last week, the President also signed one other executive action that could have a big impact on immigrants in Michigan.

The action spelled out how Trump’s administration would prioritize its deportations for undocumented immigrants. The plan Trump announced means lawmakers in Lansing could have a huge say in who will be targeted in Michigan.

The fear is real. But we can overcome it by how we live our lives.

Dec 21, 2016
arthurjohnpicton on flickr, CC by-NC 2.0

My name is Alvin Thomas. I’m the pastor of The Nations Church in Utica, Michigan.

My parents, my mom and dad, were born in south India. I was born in New York City, so I feel American.

But, as my skin color will tell you, I’m Indian.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio


For more on this, read our previous blog post.

The morning after the election, I reached out to a number of people I’ve interviewed in the past who are immigrants, or who work with immigrants.

 

It’s fair to say there was shock, some in mourning. Some worried for the future. One mother wanted to know how she can set up guardianship for her kids in case she’s deported. She’s been in the U.S. since she was a child. She now has legal status through the Obama administration’s deferred action program. But Trump has promised to end that program.

 

Lots of people who previously felt safe now don’t.

 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Donald Trump made a lot of campaign promises on his long path toward the presidency. But one of his signature issues from the very beginning was immigration. Trump has said repeatedly he plans to deport every one of the estimated 11 million people living without papers in the United States. 

flickr user fleshmanpix

On a brightly-lit stage inside a massive convention hall in downtown Houston, Texas, Ainslya Charlton made her introduction.

"You can call me Ace," she said, as her friends cheered. 

Out in the audience, away from the lights, were of nearly 1,000 people assembled for what was billed as the nation’s largest-ever gathering of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

three women and one man with microphone
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

That's the question we explored at our latest State of Opportunity live event. 

We had a full house at the Cook Library Center in Grand Rapids on Thursday for "Stories From the Shadows." The evening included personal stories from undocumented immigrants living in Grand Rapids as well as a panel discussion about the most pressing issues facing that community.  

State of Opportunity reporter Dustin Dwyer moderated the conversation with our three panelists: 

Wikimedia Commons

Right now, somewhere around 11 million people are living "illegal" lives in the United States. That's close to one out of every 30 people in this country, going about their daily business under the threat of deportation. Many have lived in the United States for years, even decades. Many came to the United States at such a young age, they don't even remember life in another country. They may consider this country home, but the paperwork doesn't. The law doesn't. 

These parts you already know. 

But how did we get to this point? 

Tomorrow, we'll air our latest State of Opportunity documentary, Out From the Shadows, which follows the lives of undocumented families in Michigan. But we also spent time looking at the history of immigration law in the United States, to try to better understand how the laws have changed over time, and how so many people became excluded. 

And it's a fascinating history. 

flickr.com/caelestis

It was November, and the first snowfall had already arrived, reminding everyone of another long, cold winter yet to come. The passengers boarded the train at Union Depot in Detroit, 432 of them in all, bound for Mexico. They had arrived in Michigan in better times, back when the state was so desperate for workers, sugar beet farmers had sent recruiters driving down to Texas to offer jobs to any Mexican immigrants willing to make the trip north. Working the sugar beet farms beat picking cotton, and there was less racial tension up north. Thousands of Mexicans took the offer.

Once they arrived in Michigan, many discovered there were many more opportunities beyond the sugar beet farms. So they headed to Detroit, to be a part of a booming new industry, making automobiles for Henry Ford. Historian Zaragosa Vargas recounts their stories in his book Proletarians of the North : Mexican Industrial Workers in Detroit and the Midwest, 1917 – 1933. Vargas writes that 15,000 Mexican immigrants were living in Detroit and working in its factories by 1929.

Then the stock market crashed.

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