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Most postcards are mailed out one by one, but on Friday afternoon, members of two immigrant rights organizations delivered more than 400 postcards protesting deportations to the Detroit field office  of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Michigan United and the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights came together to deliver the postcards, covered in messages and signatures written during the Families Belong Together rally in Ann Arbor on June 30. That rally was part of a day of nationwide protests to demand a halt in deportations and inhumane immigration policies.

Margot Finn, a mother and resident of Ann Arbor, helped organize the Families Belong Together event last month. She talked about the rally while standing beside a hand-painted teal banner reading "No más separación de familias" which translated from Spanish means "No more separation of families."

"Despite our inexperience, we drew over three thousand people in Ann Arbor on one of the hottest days of the year so far to demand that the families that have been separated be reunited, protest their plans to detain families indefinitely and call for an end to the heartless zero tolerance policy," Finn said.

Although the Ann Arbor rally was part of a larger national effort, the postcards were a local idea. Rebecca Dean, volunteer organizer with the coalition, said a petition was considered, but organizers thought postcards would be a more meaningful representation of attendees' thoughts.

"I think visually, a stack of postcards, that really shows the amount of support we have rather than just one piece of paper," Dean said. "You can tell physically how many people care about this issue."

Each postcard was addressed to Rebecca Adducci, director of the ICE Field Office in Detroit, who is interim director at the Boston office.

"There was a sense that Rebecca Adducci as the director had overseen a lot of abuses, so we wanted to do something to communicate to her that we are aware of this and are upset about it," Finn said.

A Detroit ICE spokesman said federal agents conduct themselves professionally.

"ICE fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference," an ICE spokesperson said via email about the protest. "ICE officers are fully within their lawful authority to make arrests of those in violation of immigration law. These action are undertaken with the highest level of professionalism and respect."

David Sanchez, an immigrant rights organizer at Michigan United, said he lives in southwest Detroit in an immigrant neighborhood. He shared his firsthand experience.

"As you all probably know, we are being terrorized, children are being separated from their families and when you look at it, these are strong people, strong families, who decided to come to this country to make a better life for themselves," Sanchez said.

He added, "We the people ... along with the 400 people who signed these postcards, are here to stand up for what's right."

One rally attendee wrote, “You have the authority to stop the deportation of parents in our community. You have the authority to stop the effective orphaning of the children in our community. Immigration is already at its lowest rate in decades. There is no justification for this child abuse, this crime against humanity!”

After speaking, the small group of volunteers and organizers walked through the open entrance to the ICE field office parking lot, but were promptly asked to move back to the sidewalk by a guard who then closed the gate.

Undeterred, they walked to the ICE ERO Bond Acceptance facility directly across the street, where they were met by another security guard. The guard ended up returning with an agent, who accepted the postcards and assured the group that they would be delivered to Adducci or Deputy Field Office Director Robert Lynch who is currently serving during Adducci's absence.

 

malsup@detroitnews.com

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