From left, Marcella Wilson, President and CEO of Matrix Human Services, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, State Sen. Buzz Thomas, and Debra  Spring Matrix Vistas Nuevas Head-Start Director in Southfield, Mich., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. (AP/The Detroit News, Charles V. Tines)

From left, Marcella Wilson, President and CEO of Matrix Human Services, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, State Sen. Buzz Thomas, and Debra Spring Matrix Vistas Nuevas Head-Start Director in Southfield, Mich., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. (AP/The Detroit News, Charles V. Tines)

Outrage after ICE officers detain undocumented immigrants bringing their kids to school

Members of the Latino community and immigration activists are calling for the resignation of the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Detroit after officers stopped and detained two undocumented immigrants as they dropped their children off at school.

Both immigrants, from Mexico, were followed by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement as they left their homes in southwest Detroit on Tuesday morning. Both men had their children in their vehicles. One of the men, Jorge Hernandez, says he was pulled over by agents in unmarked cars just across the street from his four year-old daughter’s school. He claims he was threatened with arrest in front of his wife and son.
“I was very scared,” said Jorge through an interpreter to The Detroit News. “My children were saying, ‘Don’t take my dad away.'”
Hernandez and his wife went into the Manuel Reyes Vistas Nuevas Head Start Center and stayed there until members of the Alliance for Immigrations Rights & Reform Michigan were able to help them. The other man, Hector Orozco Villa, told immigrant advocates he was detained by agents near the elementary school of two of his children, Cesar Chavez Academy, a few blocks from the Head Start center. Orozco Villa remains in the agency’s custody. Parents and children in the predominantly Latino neighborhood were alarmed by the agents, according to the New York Times.

On Wednesday, more than 100 people from Latino and church groups, including Hernandez and state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, rallied outside the Cesar Chavez Academy on Waterman Street. Demonstrators called for ICE Enforcement Director Rebecca Adducci to resign.

According to The Detroit News, ICE national director John Morton pledged in October 2011 that agents would no longer patrol around schools or stop residents on their way to drop off or pick up their children. Parents and school officials feel that ICE has broken it’s promise.

“It is very alarming to me to have this happen during the rush hour of people taking their children to school,” said Rep. Tlaib to the New York Times. “We are really worried about the impact on these United States citizen children.” Many of the children of both Hernandez and Orozco Villa were born in the United States.

But ICE says they’ve done nothing wrong.

“After a thorough review of facts, the arrest of a priority target today in the Detroit metro area adhered to, and was in full compliance of, the stated policies and procedures of the agency,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the agency. “This includes ICE policy regarding enforcement actions at or near sensitive locations.”

According to immigration officials, Orozco Villa was arrested because of a criminal conviction in 2008 for driving under the influence and he had also returned to the United States after being formally deported, which is a felony.

For now, immigration activists and Latino residents continue to press for answers and dialogue.

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