Activists rally for GR man, mom detained by ICE

Grand Rapids

DETROIT, Mich. (WOOD) — Activists from Grand Rapids were among those gathered in Detroit to support a man and his mother who have been detained by federal immigration authorities.

Brandon Reyes-Parra, 22, and his mother Marilu Parra-Velazquez were arrested Feb. 19 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials near their home in Grand Rapids. The pair has been held at the Calhoun County Jail ever since.

Their family says they came to the U.S. without documentation some 16 years ago when Reyes-Parra was 6 years old.

Family members and supporters from Grand Rapids and Detroit rallied Tuesday afternoon outside of the federal courthouse where a bond hearing was held for Parra-Velazquez. A $4,000 bond was set and she was expected to be released sometime Wednesday, the family said.

No bond has been set for Reyes-Parra yet.

Supporters held a press conference outside the courthouse, demanding change in how the U.S. handles undocumented immigrants. Representatives from Movimiento Cosecha and Michigan United led the group.

“Donald Trump, you are fired!” the group shouted at the prompting of one of the organizers.

The group blames Trump’s tough stance on immigration for the detentions they’re protesting.

Reyes-Parra had been protected under Deferred Action for Children Arrivals provisions because he was brought to the country as a child. That protection dissolved after a conviction for driving under the influence late last year.

A spokesperson for ICE told 24 Hour News 8 that all arrests made by the agency are targeted and the conviction may be what put Reyes-Parra on ICE’s radar.

When making an arrest, ICE agents are authorized to arrest others who are with the targeted individual if they, too, are found to be in the country illegally. Family members said Parra-Velazquez was driving Reyes-Parra to work when their vehicle was stopped by ICE.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Nelly Gudino, Reyes-Parr’s cousin, said as she defended him.

Gudino lived in a southeast Grand Rapids home with Reyes-Parra and Parra-Velazquez.

“The house is empty right now,” she told 24 Hour News 8, weeping. “I can’t imagine it being empty for longer. … Everything has changed. Everything is not like it used to be.”

ICE stood by the arrests.

The agency said it arrested more than 3,600 people through its Detroit field office, which encompasses Michigan and Ohio, in the last fiscal year between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018.

“Approximately 75 percent of those individuals either had a prior criminal conviction or came into ICE custody pursuant to their criminal arrest on pending charges,” an ICE spokesperson said in a written statement. “These statistics make it clear that the agency only conducts targeted enforcement focused first on criminals and public safety threats. Claims of any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement are false.”

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