Lourdes Salazar Bautista says even though her kids are U.S. citizens and one of them has a scholarship at Michigan State University, she just can’t go back to Mexico next month without them.
“I don’t want to be separated from them,” she says Saturday, speaking at a rally in downtown Ann Arbor, where a couple dozen people rallied both to support her, and to criticize recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.
Salazar Bautista says she’s been in the U.S. for 20 years and has three U.S.-born children. Her husband was deported few years ago, she says, but immigration officials didn’t seek her removal. She checked in annually with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but says it wasn’t until recently that she was told she had an earlier removal order dating back to 1998.
Now, officials have given her a removal date in early August, she says, and have told her to provide proof she’s purchased plane tickets for her and her children by July 18.
“Please, if there’s anybody out there listening that can help my mom,” her eldest daughter, Pamela Quintana-Salazar, 19, sobbed. “Rebecca Adducci, I know you’re the only who can stop this,” she says, referring to the Detroit ICE field director. “Please don’t take my mom from me. Please.”
Salazar Bautista says she’s being represented by attorney David Newman. Newman’s office didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking to verify details of her case.
Organizers at the downtown rally asked people to email Adducci about Salazar Bautista’s case. Don’t just call, one of the activists told attendees: “Her voicemail will fill up, and she won’t empty it. So email her.”
Updates on the Sava’s raid: “There are no updates,” attorney says
Immigration attorney Brad Thomson also spoke to the crowd about a recent high-profile case, when ICE agents went into Sava’s, a downtown Ann Arbor restaurant. They ate breakfast, Thomson says, and then arrested three Sava’s employees.
(When Michigan Radio asked ICE spokesmen Khaalid Wallis why those agents ate breakfast before making the arrest, he responded via email: “This was not confirmed by ICE as the agency does not discuss specific tactics used during targeted enforcement.”)
During that same raid, agents also handcuffed and fingerprinted a legal U.S. resident, Carlos Rivera-Ochoa, before even asking for his name or ID, Thomson says.
“The most concerning element of the arrest is the fact that ICE put on handcuffs, before asking for identification,” Thomson says. “If this becomes a trend, it’s a very dangerous trend.”
Thomson says he and Rivera-Ochoa have been trying to get answers from ICE about why, “other than being Latino,” Rivera-Ochoa was detained during the Sava’s raid. “When are ICE officers given authority and instructed to put someone in handcuffs before asking for their identification?” Thomson asks in a letter he mailed back in May to Adducci at the ICE field office.
Speaking to the small crowd gathered in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Thomson says he still hasn’t heard back. “The official update, is that there is no update. It’s been more than a month since I traveled to the Detroit ICE office, looking for answers as to why my permanent resident client at Sava’s was handcuffed, before being asked for identification.”
But when Michigan Radio reached out to ICE earlier this week, a spokesperson said those issues had been “resolved.”
“We have been in touch with Mr. Thompson and believe this to be resolved,” Walls said in an email.
Thomson denies that.
“No I’ve not heard any response from ICE,” Thomson says. “And I’m glad to hear that they’re discussing these issues, and at least on their end they’re saying it’s been resolved. But there’s been no communication reaching out to me. I’d love to sit down and discuss it.”
Thomson also told a frustrated, sometimes emotional crowd that he won’t be badmouthing ICE officers.
“Here’s my confession: I have the same honor and respect for ICE officers for the work they perform, as I do for my friends who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. ICE officers work intense and difficult jobs, and sometimes risk their lives for the benefit of national security, and for you and me,” Thomson said.
But Mike Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, did have some sharp words for ICE.
“In many parts of the world, if you’re the wrong skin color … the police will break down your doors, put you in handcuffs and take you away,” Steinberg told the protestors. “Well, here in Ann Arbor, it felt a little bit like a police state [during the Sava’s raid,]” he said, adding that ICE officers “sat down, had breakfast, and started putting brown people in handcuffs without a warrant.”
“ICE is starting to round people up in places they would never do it before. It happens at schools. It happens at churches. It happens at courthouses. We just had 300 lawyers sign a letter … saying you cannot do that.”
A request for comment from ICE was not immediately returned. We’ll update this story as we get more information.