This year in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cinco de Mayo brought more than the traditional celebration for some members of the Mexican-American community. They used it as an opportunity to hold a rally to call attention to the plight of one man and to help raise money to fight his deportation . The man, who came to the U.S. illegally 12 years ago, is being supported by a group called the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
The group recently paid the required $12,000 bond for his release from a deportation center where he was taken in February. He says he doesn't know why he was stopped or detained after all of these years in this country.
Lack of Family Ties an Issue for Immigration Authorities
Unlike many people who come to this country, whether legally or illegally, this man has no biological family here. He came to the U.S., he says, because of the treatment he endured as a gay man in his homeland. He says that there is "no culture of respect in Mexico for the gay community" and that those who beat and bash gay people suffer no consequences for their actions.
Because he has no family here, according to one of WICIRs founders, Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn't recognize any ties to the area and therefore set his bond unusually high. She notes, however, that even people without family in the U.S. can be "part of the fabric of our community."
An immigration organizer for the group Michigan United told the assembled crowd that as a gay man and an undocumented immigrant himself who was approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he sees similarities between the way that the two groups are treated. He encouraged members of both groups to "stand together and speak up against [the] hateful practices from our current systems."
Attorneys May Ask for Asylum
The next legal hurdle for the Ann Arbor man is a deportation hearing this July. His attorneys say they may seek asylum for him based on the treatment he endured in Mexico.
This case shows the problems faced by those who come to this country for reasons other than to join family or who have no "traditional" family ties here. Each immigrant's case is unique. Experienced immigration attorneys can help present these cases to authorities and fight for them to remain in the country legally.
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