Protesters rally at Kent County Jail over ICE contract

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FOX 17 image

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —  About 60 protesters marched to the Kent County Correctional Facility on Saturday morning, demanding an end to the county’s contract with U.S. Immigration & Custom Enforcement (ICE).

A protest rally in late June interrupted a Kent County Board of Commissioners’ meeting and prompted its postponement.

The contract runs through September 2019, and reimburses the county for every undocumented immigrant who is arrested. Kent County deputies say they don’t make arrests based on civil-immigration charges. But as part of the booking process, the correctional facility is required to take an inmate’s fingerprints, which are then shared with the FBI and ICE.

Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response hosted the rally at the jail, 901 Ball Avenue NE in Grand Rapids. And protestors also marched through surrounding residential streets. They spoke about living with the threat of being separated from their families.

Jema Lowe with Movimento Cosecha told FOX 17 at the rally, “The jail is complicit with the actions of ICE. So ICE is being used to separate families, to put kids in cages – and that is just a human rights’ violation.”

FOX 17 photo of rally outside Kent County Correctional Facility

Rally organizers said some of the immigrants  are jailed on traffic offenses. Sergio Cira with Movimento Cosecha says, “The county – the State of Michigan – is systematically criminalizing an act that we all engage in every day: driving. Because these individuals, these community members, are not able to get licenses to drive. Then, driving becomes a criminal act in the eyes of law enforcement.”

“Kent County is complicit with ICE violence. They continue to uphold a contract with ICE regardless of public input,” said Cira in a news release. “We will continue to disrupt business as usual, so the commissioners and sheriff know that the community does not support their collaboration with ICE and their targeting of immigrant families.”

Rally organizers say ICE pays Kent County $85/day for each person held for deportation, and in 2017 the county received $18,000 for 185 people  detained for ICE, because they did not have legal proof of immigration status.

Those numbers could not be immediately corroborated by FOX 17.

FOX 17's Candese Charles contributed to this story.

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  • Deanna Kloostra

    Five Red Flags: Today I visited the event held by COSECHA who is against ICE contracts for immigration. The information stated the event was going to be how to help out someone dealing with these situations. What it actually was is a march to the Kent County Jail. Instead of group leaders talking with me about why I was at the event etc, they acted afraid of me. If someone showed up at my event I would want to talk to them. (Red Flag something is up.) They did not have a permit to block both sides of the street so no way was I going to march with them. I was told they had Marshall services protecting them. By that, they meant retired teachers and called anyone with an orange vest Marshall. (Red Flag number two.) I was told by one of the planners that the demonstration at the Kent County Commissioners meeting, they planned the protesters getting arrested. I was told that nothing like that was planned for today, it was going to be peaceful. (Red Flag number three.) They were pretty organized and I was quite impressed with that, but being someone who puts demonstrations together, it was too organized. (Red Flag number four.) Monica Sparks showed up and I just got a weird feeling, who knows, maybe she is behind all this. (Red Flag number five. Monica puts events together and is running for Kent County Commissioner.) I will not be attending another event that they have and I do not support Monica Sparks at all.

    So I looked up some funding for immigrants here in Grand Rapids. A quick search revealed these two grants.

    The Grand Rapids Community Foundation donated to the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan Amount Awarded: $300,000. Date Awarded: Feb. 2018 for development of economic opportunity pathways in the Latino community.

    The Grand Rapids Community Foundation gave a grant to Immigrant Connection to City Life Church Amount Awarded: $10,000. Date Awarded: Apr. 2018 To train more individuals to become certified by the Department of Justice to provide legal education and counsel to more immigrants to legally attain permanent residency or citizenship.

    By now you are asking yourself the same question I am asking myself. WTH!!!!!!

  • Sick of the crap

    Not ILLEGAL? Not a problem. Get a job, pay taxes, no freebies. ILLEGAL? Get the F— OUT!!! Arrested, caged, deported. Second offence? I say get a rope…

    • Kevin Rahe

      It is an injustice to fail to make a reasonable effort to prevent someone from breaking a law in the first place. The law needs to be enforced or it needs to be changed. Complaints about how people who break the law are treated are invalid if not accompanied by a call to make some other change.

  • C

    See how many of the throng show up in January. And, one of these days, if and when, these adolescents will learn that when they “demand” anything their message will fall on deaf ears.

  • Mac Woods

    Isn’t it cute, how the same people who despise the nuclear family, and would storm the gates of hell itself to maintain the “right” to abortion, are the same ones who endlessly cry and carry on about the precious illegal immigrants in general, and their kids in particular? “Where are the babies?” On one of the placards. Oh, you mean the babies which you ordinarily couldn’t possibly care less about when they’re being sucked or sliced out of the womb? Those babies? Or the babies which you now find politically expedient?

  • P

    Message to Fox 17. We realize you are :-co-sponsoring this illegal gathering, but don’t you think its time to take this fake news story down????

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