DACA, deportations and Trump: The year in the Advance’s immigration reporting

Protesters supporting DACA outside the U.S. Supreme Court, Nov. 12, 2019 | Robin Bravender

Quotable of the Year:

“I don’t want my father to die. You have the power to save his life. He is not a flight risk. He has made good faith efforts to comply with all requests asked of him.”

— Dearborn Heights resident Mariam Charara on her father’s pending deportation to Lebanon

Susan J. Demas graphic

In the last days of 2019, the Advance is running a series of our best stories from a few of the many issues we cover, from the environment to the 2020 election. With more than 2,000 stories to choose from, it was hard to pare the list down.

Here’s our roundup of our top immigration stories:

Steve Bannon, former senior adviser to President Donald Trump, led a rally in Detroit this winter to drum up support for the Republican’s border wall.

Bannon rallies hundreds in Detroit for Trump’s border wall

Jimmy Aldaoud, an Iraqi national who lived most of his life in metro Detroit, died in August from complications of diabetes after being deported to Iraq.

Iraqi Oakland County resident dies after deportation

Over the summer, Michigan immigrant rights activists and lawyers said Trump’s tweets announcing immigration raids in cities spurred a new wave of panic in a community that has lived in fear for years.

Michigan immigrants on alert after Trump raid tweets

Median El-Moustrah is living with liver damage, hepatitis B, diabetes and hearing loss. His family says he won’t survive if he’s deported back to Lebanon.

‘I don’t want my father to die’: Dearborn Heights woman pleas for ICE to halt deportation 

We reported on a lawsuit that has been filed after Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, an American citizen and Marine veteran, was almost deported from Grand Rapids last year.

ACLU sues ICE over attempted deportation of U.S. citizen in Grand Rapids

The U.S. Supreme Court in November appeared unlikely to salvage a former President Obama-era program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of young, unauthorized immigrants known as “Dreamers” to remain in the country without immediate fear of deportation. Michigan is home to 5,350 DACA recipients.

Is DACA doomed? Supreme Court may side with Trump.


Democratic state legislators introduced a package of bills that would allow undocumented immigrants, workers and seniors to obtain Michigan state IDs or driver licenses.

Bills allow undocumented immigrants to have state IDs, driver licenses

The Advance broke the story of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shutting down a land deal for a private immigrant detention center, although the company later bypassed the state and opened the facility.

Whitmer halts land sale for $35M private immigrant detention center

The Advance had a one-on-one with U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), who was part of a bipartisan group touring migrant holding facilities in Texas and the U.S.-Mexico border crossing itself over the summer. She called it a humanitarian “tragedy.”

Slotkin: Border camps ‘a tragedy … for every single link in the chain’

Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.