Protesters arrested during border shutdown hours before 2nd Dem debate

Police arrested 21 people at a pro-immigration protest outside the second Democratic debate | Ken Coleman

Immigrants and allies blocked traffic on Wednesday at the Windsor Tunnel, an international crossing between Detroit and Ontario, Canada. The group of about 300 demanded that 2020 U.S. presidential hopefuls recognize the daily crisis of family separation and deportation that immigrants in Detroit are facing.

After a 15-minute blockage, 21 men and women were arrested by Detroit police. The protesters called on Democratic candidates, 10 of which are scheduled to debate in Detroit this evening, to commit to ending all deportations on their first day in office.

“A vague commitment to support immigration reform is an empty promise that we cannot accept,” said Carlos Rojas, a spokesman for Movimiento Cosecha, which helped organize the rally. “The immigrant community has learned this lesson and we will not let candidates get away with another round of empty promises.”

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Movimiento Cosecha is a national movement “to win permanent protection, dignity and respect for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States,” and has organizing hubs in Detroit and throughout the country.

“I live in Detroit, which is less than a mile from the national border with Canada,” said Cindy Gamboa, a Detroit resident who helped lead the effort. “Living in a border city means increased ICE/CBP [Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Customs and Border Protection] patrols in our community. Immigrants live in constant fear of being stopped by agents because of the color of their skin and once they notice you are driving without a driver’s license it very often leads to detention and deportation.”

Pro-immigration protest outside the second Democratic debate | Ken Coleman

Earlier this month, Movimiento Cosecha launched the Dignity2020 Campaign, laying out an immigration platform for the Democratic Party and 2020 presidential candidates.

The platform calls for:

  • An end to all detention and deportation on the first day in office
  • Reuniting families separated by deportation under previous administrations
  • Immediate legalization of all 11 million undocumented immigrants

In early July, immigrant families shut down former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, demanding an apology for the families separated under the Obama administration, and for Biden to commit to the demands of the Dignity Platform.

“In this moment of public reckoning, it’s time to put forward a new vision on immigration that recognizes the dignity of all immigrants,” said Cata Santiago, another Cosecha spokesperson. “We won’t sit back and allow the decades long bipartisan attack on immigrants to continue. We are charting a new path forward and demanding more from any politician who claims to support us.”

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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