DACA recipient awaits his own hearing, mother expects release Wednesday
Family, friends and immigrant rights advocates are relieved by the decision of a federal judge allowing Marilú Parra-Velázquez to be released on bond. The Grand Rapids woman was swept up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials looking for her son, Brandon Reyes, whose “Dreamer” status had been terminated after completing a sentence for a misdemeanor driving offense. Parra-Velázquez appeared in the Detroit courtroom via closed circuit television. She is currently being held in Kent County. If she posts the $4,000 bond, she could be released as soon as Wednesday.
“This is good news for Marilú. We just hope Brandon can be reunited with her soon,” said Michigan United immigrant rights organizer, David Sanchez. “Of course, it’s a shame we even have to be here. It’s a symptom of the hostility shown towards immigrants that is tearing our community apart.”
Reyes had long been an outspoken leader in the Grand Rapids community, but when he lost the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), ICE made him a priority. They stopped him on the way to work last month and even though she hadn’t done anything, ICE also took his mother into custody just because she was in the car with him.
“I have witnessed so many families separated because ICE came and kidnapped our mothers, our fathers, our workers, our students from the center of our communities,” said Gema Lowe, immigrant rights organizer with Movimiento Cosecha Michigan. “It is not right that Fati and Ángela should be traumatized by being separated from their mother and brother because they were off doing a simple task: a mother taking her son to work. Suddenly, Marilú and Brandon were taken from their community, from my community.”
“Our house has been really empty without Brandon and my aunt,” said Nelly Gudino. “My little cousins have been wondering where their big brother went.” Gudino and other family members traveled across the state to show their support in court. “Brandon has been a role model to me and his little sisters, always pushing us to do our best.”
Cindy Gamboa, Director of Community Organizing and Advocacy at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation noted that Michigan’s proximity to the international border puts an extra burden on the immigrant community. “We have witnessed increased patrolling and racial profiling incidents, that has led to the harassment of nuestra gente (our people),” said Gamboa. “Socially our communities are being destroyed by the increased number of deportations with lasting trauma that can’t be repaired for generations. We demand that it stops now!”
As Reyes awaits his own bond hearing, congress has taken up Dream and Promise Act, legislation that would put into law executive protections for people with DACA as well as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED).