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West Michigan immigration attorney announces she's running for Amash's seat

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
Democrat Hillary Scholten is running to unseat Justin Amash.

A West Michigan immigration attorney says she plans to be the first Democratic woman from the area ever elected to Congress.

Hillary Scholten announced on Monday that she’s running to represent Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, which includes Grand Rapids and Battle Creek.

The district is currently represented by Congressman Justin Amash. He announced last week he’s leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent.

Scholten made her announcement to supporters at Martin Luther King Jr. park in Grand Rapids.  

“With your support, we can win,” she said. “I’m ready. Together we can prove that our democracy can be a force for good.”

Scholten previously served as an attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. She was part of the push in Kent County to have the Sheriff’s Department change its policy on honoring certain requests from federal immigration enforcement officers. She was also involved in the case over Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a Marine war veteran who was mistakenly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year.

Only one other Democrat - Richard Vander Veen - has been elected to represent the Grand Rapids area in Congress in the past 100 years.

Prior to that, Scholten worked on immigration issues in the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

She said she moved back to Grand Rapids to help fight against the changes in immigration policy made by President Donald Trump.

“We know that the people of west Michigan care about the things I care about,” Scholten said. “Having accessible, affordable health care for all Americans, supporting our public schools and ending gun violence.”

Only one other Democrat, Richard Vander Veen, has been elected to represent the Grand Rapids area in Congress in the past 100 years. 

And Scholten said, if elected, she’ll be the first woman in the Democratic Party to represent West Michigan in Congress. 

Republican Ruth Thompson served from the Muskegon area in the 1950s.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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