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Immigrants’ rights advocates urge Kent County to end contract with ICE

Attorneys speaking at meeting
Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
ACLU attorneys speaking at a Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting

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.  

Miriam Auckerman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, says the county commission could end the contract if they wanted.

“There are many many things that the county commission could do here to make it clear that we are a welcoming community and to keep our immigrant neighbors and friends safe, and that’s what they need to be doing,” Auckerman said.

County commissioners say it is not within their power to end the contract with ICE.

Amy Carpenter, an immigrants’ rights activist with Cosecha GR, estimates that there are more than 1,300 immigrants without proper documentation living in metro Grand Rapids.

This isn’t the first time the county’s contract with ICE has been a contentious issue. A Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting in September was moved to a different location after immigrants’ right protestors disrupted the meeting.

Hillary Scholten, an attorney with the Michigan Immigrants’ Rights Center, says the resolution makes very simple demands.

“We’re not calling on the county commission to harbor individuals, to stand in ICE’s way. We’re just saying don’t give our county’s resources over to this budget,” Scholten said.

According to documents from the county, it costs roughly 101 dollars each day to keep someone detained.

The same documents show that ICE only reimburses $85 a day. So the county is still losing money detaining undocumented immigrants.

Representatives from ICE couldn’t be reached for comment.  

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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