Ann Arbor Michigan: Immigration Rights Groups Rally on Day of the Dead

Left: Co-founders of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights Laura Sanders of Ann Arbor, left, and Ramiro Martinez of Mexico talk about deportation statistics. Joseph Tobianski I

Community members rallied against the deportation of immigrants Thursday with a speeches and a march to the Federal Building in downtown Ann Arbor.

Some participants painted their faces as skeletons in recognition of El Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, during the rally organized by Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the University of Michigan’s Social Work Alliance for Immigrant Rights group.

The rally highlighted the struggle of Lourdes Salazar Bautista — an Ann Arbor woman and mother of three children — as part of an ongoing deportation problem in Washtenaw County. Bautista, who came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1997, is facing deportation Dec. 27 after being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a month in July 2010. He husband was deported last year.

Laura Sanders, one of the co-founders of WICIR, said Bautista’s supporters are hoping to stop Lourdes’ deportation by calling attention to her case and asking people to speak out. Organizers circulated petitions against her deportation at the rally and handed out flyers asking participants to contact the Department of Homeland Security and ICE on Bautista’s behalf.

“We hope that with enough attention we can stop this,” Sanders said. 

Bautista’s case is just one part of WICIR’s efforts. The group responds to detainments and raids affecting hundreds in Washtenaw County, she said.

Speaking through a translator at the rally, Bautista, holding a sign that read “Death to broken families,” described how her father used to talk about his dream to come to the U.S. someday. She said she’s worked hard to support her three children — ages 7, 9 and 13 — who are U.S. citizens.

Rally participants spoke against deportation, saying it pulls apart families. Marchers chanted, “People united will never be defeated,” and “Stop deportation.”

Bautista said her deportation will divide her family. She wants her children to stay in the U.S. because it’s all they know.

St. Mary Student Parish, 331 Thompson St., will hold a candlelight vigil for Bautista and her family at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, 2011.

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