Border situation draws Independence Day protest at Detroit immigration office | Michigan Radio

Border situation draws Independence Day protest at Detroit immigration office

Jul 4, 2019

Protesters outside Detroit's Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on E. Jefferson.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

More than 100 people showed up at Detroit’s immigration office on Thursday to protest conditions at migrant detention camps along the southern U.S. border.

Chanting “Never again is now,” and “Free the children, cage Trump,” many of them talked about their worries for children separated from their families.

Rabaab Khattab, with her husband and children
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

“I can’t imagine having my kids ripped away from me, so it’s really hard to see right now what’s happening at the border, having children that are gonna be scarred for life because they’ve been ripped out of their families arms, and mothers that are desperate,” said Rabaab Khattab, who was pushing a stoller with her two young kids. “It’s hard to see that and it really needs to stop.”

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The protest reflects growing public outrage over detention centers at the southern border. A federal report this week detailed squalid and dangerous conditions for asylum-seekers, including children.

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Ilana Spencer of Ann Arbor held her 19-month-old son in her arms as she talked about a trip she took to visit the concentration camp where her grandparents were held in Germany. She says she was surprised that the camp was located right near a residential neighborhood – full of upper middle class homes.

“And that was one of the most impactful moments of my life,” she said. “I decided I wasn’t gonna be that neighbor, and stand by and pretend like nothing was happening.”

David and Ilana Spencer with their son, Rafael.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Independence Day demonstration comes on the heels of similar protests this week. Several attendees said it was a fitting event for the holiday.

“What’s more American than protesting?” said Khattab. “We have so many freedoms, we’re lucky. Sometimes we take it for granted…. That we have the right to protest what we see is wrong, that’s what makes this country wonderful.”