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Michigan immigrant rights center

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A legal challenge to COVID-19 testing requirements on Michigan farms has been dismissed in the federal court system. 

Two Michigan farms — True Blue Berry Management in Grand Junction, and Smeltzer Orchards in Frankfort — and several workers filed the lawsuit against the state in August, claiming the testing requirements discriminated against Latinos, who make up the majority of farm workers in the U.S.

 

US Department of Agriculture

A federal appeals court in Ohio has denied a request from some Michigan farms to suspend testing requirements for Michigan workers while it makes a decision about the related lawsuit.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Farm Bureau has some concerns about a state emergency order that agricultural and food processing workers get tested for COVID-19.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order on Monday.

He says he arrived in Michigan in March. He came from Mexico with a temporary farmworker visa. He spent his days working with plants in a greenhouse. At night, he lived in worker housing, sharing a room and sleeping in bunk beds.

A new lawsuit alleges workers were forced to work for months without pay at a green house in Monroe County.

They were temporary agriculture workers from Mexico, recruited under the H-2A visa program. They arrived in Michigan in early 2018 to work at Four Star Greenhouse, a company that sells potted plants under the Proven Winners brand. The lawsuit says when the workers complained about not receiving pay, they were set up in sting operation and deported back to Mexico.  

“The truth is that we left our small towns to make something better,” said Eduardo Reyes-Trujillo, a worker who spoke to Michigan Radio through an interpreter. “And for them to take advantage of us is not right.

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The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center says 13 unaccompanied immigrant children have arrived in Michigan in recent months, after their parents were turned back at the southern border.  

Under the current policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, adults who seek asylum at the southern border have to wait in Mexico for their asylum claim to be processed.

The policy doesn’t apply to children.
 

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Two social justice organizations filed complaints against the Grand Rapids Police Department with the state Department of Civil Rights.

The ACLU of Michigan and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center say the GRPD has racially profiled residents in two recent incidents.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department exonerated a controversial captain who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a U.S. citizen and Marine combat veteran.

The officer, Captain Curt VanderKooi, was reinstated on Friday after the department opened an internal investigation, which exonerated VanderKooi. 

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A 19-year old Haitian man who came to the U.S. seeking asylum could be deported soon. The U.S. government being slow to act could be part of the reason.

Williams Sejour came to the U.S. when he was 16. He was looking to escape his abusive family. Sejour turned himself into authorities at the U.S. southern border, making him a so-called “arriving alien” rather than an illegal alien.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is considering a full investigation into the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The department held two public hearings Thursday to hear from residents, and most of the testimonies painted the police in a negative light.

courtesy Movimiento Cosecha GR

A well-known immigration activist in West Michigan says he’s trying to stay optimistic after being arrested this week to face possible deportation.

Brandon Reyes is currently in the Calhoun County Correction Facility, which has an agreement to hold immigration detainees. Reyes grew up in Grand Rapids and is part of the “Dreamer” generation of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. He was enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created to protect young immigrants from deportation.

Attorneys speaking at meeting
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Attorneys from the ACLU and Michigan Immigrants’ Rights Center presented a resolution to Kent County’s Board of Commissioners Thursday.

The resolution would ensure that no county resources go to helping ICE detain immigrants living in the county.  

Francis Anwana
Diane Newman

U.S. immigration officials have postponed the deportation of a deaf immigrant from Nigeria in the U.S. illegally.

The Detroit Free Press reports Friday that 48-year-old Francis Anwana and his attorneys met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who plan to review his case over the next month.

Francis Anwana
Courtesy of Francis Anwana

Francis Anwana
Diane Newman

Immigration and customs enforcement officials said Friday morning they will delay the deportation of disabled Nigerian man Francis Anwana.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The U.S. government is scrambling to meet Thursday's court-ordered deadline to reunite hundreds of children who were separated at the border with their parents.

About half of those families have been reunited.

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This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested ten workers at a farm labor camp near Hart, Michigan. The undocumented immigrants were harvesting crops at a farm.

“The nine men have been taken to a detention facility in Youngstown, OH, which is about 480 miles from where they were picked up,” said Susan Reed, managing attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. “The one woman we believe was taken to the Calhoun County jail.”

Blueberries
Andrew Malone / Flickr

Ten undocumented immigrants were rounded up Tuesday in what immigrant advocates say is the first major farm labor camp raid in Michigan since President Trump took office.

The ten workers were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcment officials Tuesday night at their labor camp near Hart, roughly 40 miles north of Muskegon.

The nine male farm workers are currently in ICE custody in Youngstown, Ohio. The lone female farm worker arrested in is Calhoun County, Michigan. It's unclear whether the workers will be deported.

Border stop.
bbmcshane / flickr

Border agents can stop and search anyone within 100 miles of an international border, without a warrant. The American Civil Liberties Union and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center doesn't like this.

The ACLU and MIRC are suing the U.S. government over these warrantless searches. Both groups want border agencies to be more transparent about their searches.

Miriam Aukerman, the west Michigan regional staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said the lawsuit is really about holding the government accountable.

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It began with a concern raised by some Michigan companies: Some foreign visitors can’t drive with their foreign driver’s licenses, particularly those from China.

Could something be done in Lansing to clear the way for a Chinese executive visiting, say, Dow Chemical, to drive on his or her own?

The result was Senate Bill 501.