Kent Co. Commission meeting adjourned after disruption from ICE protesters

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Hundreds of people protested at a Kent County Commission Board meeting Thursday morning, calling for leaders end the Kent County Jail contract with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE).

The protesters including Movimiento Cosecha GR said they planned the rally because they believe the county is profiting from this partnership, but according to Kent County officials and Sheriff Larry Stelma that is not the case.

"The county is not financially incentivized to participate with ICE, no," said Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma after the meeting Thursday.

Kent County Commissioners suspended the meeting after protesters stopped another resident speaking about a different topic during the public comment portion of the meeting.

"I understand it’s a federal issue, but I also understand that you have a voice and power and I need you to hear that our community cannot sit back and simply wait in your silence," said Reverend Justo Gonzalez II, Southwest Area Minister for United Church of Christ, who spoke first to the Commission before protests broke out.

After the Kent County Commission meeting, the group marched to the Grand Rapids ICE office on Ottawa Avenue. Grand Rapids Police say seven protesters were arrested for blocking traffic at the intersection of Ottawa and Michigan.

Michigan does not grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants so organizers of this rally say that traffic offenses are one of the main reasons some people end up in Kent County Jail, and then they are being taken from their families by ICE.

According to Kent County officials once someone enters any correctional facility, it is required to take the inmate's fingerprint which is then shared with the FBI and ICE.

The contract ensures that ICE reimburses the sheriff's office for every undocumented immigrant they arrest.

Last year, county officials say they made nearly $18,000 from the partnership, of the jail's $36 million budget that year, which is why protestors believe it's encouraging police officers to make more arrests.  County officials, however, report that this isn't true.

"It is a minimal number; however, they’re all human beings, they all deserve to be treated with humanity and respect," said Sheriff Stelma.

"I understand the emotion, and we all care about people, but we also have an oath of office and responsibility to enforce the laws of this country and the laws of the state of Michigan. And we have to balance our heart and our head."

The current contract runs through September 2019.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • John Q Public

    Yeah well, I guess we should protest all tickets too, right? …… Because, all those times collected are an incentive to pull people over. Duh….. More proof that liberals have no ability to use simple reasoning skills.

  • Iamct01

    How many Americans that hire illegals do bust, the source of the problem? Crickets. Unregulated capitalism and failed law enforcement for all these years and I am now suppose to care. Two poops

  • C

    If the idiots would stop breaking laws and winding up in jail they wouldn’t have to worry about who pays how much to whom. It’s none of their business, period.

  • Tim

    Isn’t it amazing how Presidents Trumps illegal immigration policy completely resolved the gun control problem? America has too many people pretending to care and demanding that everyone believes them.

  • J.B.

    No borders..
    No Ice enforcement
    No correctional facility’s
    And 60 million more on the way…
    Two steps over the border and they already want to change “our” country into “their” country..
    No Thanks..

  • J.B.

    Fake Fox News 17 moderator is obviously a Pro open borders liberal democrat.
    10 protesters become hundreds…
    And everything and anyone with an opposing view is censored.

  • Not Buyingit

    No leftist event too small to get coveyby the biased local media. Yet a week ago there was a Second Amendment March at the state capital with about 1,000 in attendance and ZERO media coverage. This is why I default to ignoring anything the local media covers. It’s so biased.

  • Bud

    A simple solution to our immigration problem: ENFORCE E-Verify and require all employers to comply.
    A simple solution to keep children with their parents: Deport the entire family back to their country of origin.
    Ya gotta follow the law and the K.I.S.S. rule: Keep It Simple Stupid.

  • Bud

    Liberals have no vision, no ideas and no message. It’s no wonder liberals cannot convince Americans to support them. And when liberals cannot convince Americans to support their position on the merits – they call Americans racists, bully them and threaten violence to shut down ANY discussion.

    We are witnessing the destruction of the democrat party from within.

  • tracyd112

    Ice is only doing their Job! To me they are doing enough pick these illegal people up and send then and anyone else here illegally Back to their Country . Also New Laws need to be put into Place to where any of these Illegal people that are deported that if they return it then becomes a felony.We have Thousands that have been deported only to sneak back into the Country.To the Protesters who feel this law is wrong then they also need to pack up and move on.Let any one of them go sneak into another Country and see just what will happen when they are caught.Let them see just how they are threw into a prison and forgot about. Plus dont expect to eat much because the Locals will make sure you eat very little .

  • Rose

    So what do they want? To drive around with no licenses and have the police turn and look the other way so they don’t have to go to jail and get turned into ICE? As citizens, we have to have licenses to drive, but they want to come here illegally and get a free pass?

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.