Local organizations accompany immigrants to mandatory ICE check-in’s amid concerns of deportations

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Hugs, tears, and a sense of relief for one immigrant family following their mandatory Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in meeting in Cedar Rapids.

“Seeing the reaction I think it really shows how fearful they are,” Paul Lee, from Iowa City, said.

The routine check-ins are to review paperwork, verify information like addresses, and also answering anything that may have changed since the last meeting. The concern is what they’ve heard has been happening at these check in’s for some immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally: reports of them being deported.

“Just the way it happens leaves people with, they really are disappeared. There’s no preparation,” Audrey Keith, also from Iowa City, said.

”It makes me feel really sick honestly,” Lee said.

Lee and Keith were part of this group accompanying about four families Tuesday to their meetings, and making sure they get home safely. Bill McCoy, with Iowa City Catholic Worker House, said each time he’s gotten the call, he’s participated and feels it’s helped.

“I am here to support my neighbors who are trying to support their families and work just like me,” McCoy said.

The Advocates for Social Justice, along Iowa City Catholic Worker House and Corridor Community Action Network, do these monthly. Co-Founder Tamara Marcus says the deportations are wrong, and addressing the issue starts taking a critical look at the immigration system.

“We think back to families being separated at the border, and that’s just the start of it,” Marcus said. “We want to continue to build people power.”

KCRG-TV9 reached out to congresspeople who represent eastern Iowa on this matter. A statement from Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA1) reads, in part, “People should come to our country through the legal process and our immigration laws should be strictly enforced.”

Hinson goes on to say, “I continue to hear from Iowans who are furious that the Biden Administration’s lax immigration policies have resulted in the worst border crisis in modern history. By reinstating catch and release, stopping border wall construction, and tying the hands of our men and women at Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Administration has incentivized illegal immigration. Congress should make necessary reforms to our legal immigration system, but first and foremost we must secure our border and address the illegal immigration crisis that is jeopardizing the safety and security of Iowans right now.”

Marcus said she’s hopeful the Biden Administration will investigate and reform ICE.

“We also can’t just wait for our president to solve this issue. It really does take all of us,” Marcus said.

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