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Dearborn immigration town hall tries to bridge gap between law enforcement, public

Top federal law enforcement officials took questions on immigration laws at a Dearborn town hall Thursday night.

Organizers say the event was meant to break down barriers between law enforcement and the public on a particularly complex and emotional topic: immigration.

Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz from the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Detroit ICE field office director Rebecca Adducci, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Detroit office director Mick Dedvukaj fielded questions on a range of topics.

They ranged from rules that apply to political refugees, to concerns over who’s being targeted for deportation and implementation of ICE’s “Secure Communities” program in Michigan.

Moskowitz told attendees that there are serious misconceptions about how ICE targets its investigations.

 “We don’t do anything randomly,” Moskowitz said. “Our agents don’t drive down the street, just looking for people they think might be here illegally.”

"We have people that we’ve identified, who we think have violated the law or we know have violated the law…that’s who we’re out looking for. Specific individuals. Not the hope that we may stumble upon someone who may be here illegally.”

Some attendees said they found the meeting helpful, but others were less impressed.

Jose Franco heads the group One Michigan for Immigrant Youth, a group of young and undocumented immigrants.

He was skeptical of ICE officials’ claims that they’re exercising “prosecutorial discretion” to avoid deporting all but the most dangerous illegal immigrants.

“We know at least three local cases right now that fit within the guidelines [of prosecutorial discretion] of that, that are not being enforced by them,” Franco said.

One is the case of a Gustavo Vargas, a Detroit man facing deportation. Immigrant advocates held a rally to support him at Detroit’s ICE office on Friday.

Franco says his group also has plans to advocate for national-level immigration reform, and especially on pushing some version of the DREAM Act in Congress.

That would provide a path to citizenship for immigrant youth who came to the US as young children.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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