Immigrants come together for unity campaign

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit — In the face of deportations and travel bans, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Mexican immigrants joined forces Sunday to march for freedom.

The march, during which about 400 people traveled from southwest Detroit to Dearborn, celebrated the official launch of the campaign “Neighbors Building Bridges.”

Organizers say they formed a coalition to promote unity among whom they called marginalized groups and empower people affected by President Donald Trump’s policies.

Marchers included families that will be separated after the Trump administration boosted efforts to curb immigration and deport undocumented residents.

“The rhetoric against minorities, against the immigrant community, against people of certain faith is so prevailing even at the highest level of government,” said Khalid Turaani, president of the American Muslim Leadership Council. “And I believe that is dangerous for us.”

Turaani teamed up with the Rev. Marc Gawronski of St. Gabriel Catholic Church, Michigan United and other groups to form Neighbors Building Bridges, which also will advocate for better health care, education and security in communities.

Gawronski said it’s important for different religious and racial groups to unite because everyone has similar challenges.

“(Muslims) are facing a ban entering the country, Hispanics are facing deportations,” Gawronski said. “And what those two things have in common is they separate families, and that’s what we think is truly wrong.”

The march started at St. Gabriel to West Vernor Highway with marchers holding signs with messages such as “Hate Won’t Make Us Great” and “Stop Separating Families.”

Estrella Hernandez marched in support of her father, who she said is being deported to Mexico on April 14.

Hernandez, 23, said her family immigrated to the United States in 1998. Authorities have been trying to deport her father since 2008, when he was jailed following a police stop, she said.

Hernandez earned Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status but will not be allowed to go to Mexico to visit her father.

“If I leave, I can’t come back,” Hernandez said. “People don’t understand what it feels like if they’re not going through it.”

Gabriel Slaboski and Allie Zeff of the organization Jews for Justice said they attended the march to show solidarity with other religious groups.

“When one group is under attack, we all are,” said Zeff, 25, of Hamtramck. “And these are our neighbors and members of our community.”

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Twitter: @NicquelTerry