The wife of a man snatched by ICE last month and two young children of another were among the more than 60 people who attended Bend the Arc:CU's rally today in front of the Champaign County Courthouse to protest ICE raids in Champaign-Urbana.
“Even though our skin is different on the outside, we are all the same inside,” said Olivia, the wife of one of the men taken by ICE and the mother of four children who are US citizens. “I don't know why the government is attacking us, why so many hate us. We are paying our taxes, we work very hard, we're doing the best we can. I love this country. I want to work and fight for this country.”
Beside her were the two children from the other family, who were holding signs saying, “I miss my dad, bring him back” and “I want my family together.”
Other speakers included Diane Ore, chair of Bend the Arc:CU; Joe Omo-osagie, a Nigerian immigrant and counselor at Parkland College; Brian Dolinar, program director at Urbana's Independent Media Center and a leading advocate for immigrants; Rabbi Ari Naveh of Illini Hillelr; Zayd Jawad of C-U Friends Assisting Immigrants and Refugees (C-U FAIR) and the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center; and Rev. Cindy Shepherd, Central Illinois Outreach Director for Faith in Place.
“Our message is one of unprecedented importance,” Ore told the crowd. “Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump are deliberately trying to numb you to the reality of ethnic cleansing and concentration camps on US soil. Call your representatives, senators and political leaders. Tell them how much you object to the actions of our government, because history shows that if we allow them to get away with this kind of kidnapping, they can get away with murder.”
The purpose of the rally was to highlight that family separations are not just happening on the southern border, but right in our own community. In late June, the father of three with another on the way was picked up by ICE, and another father was picked up in May. In March, an eight-year resident of Champaign-Urbana was picked up as he arrived for work at Siam Terrace. The total number of people apprehended in Champaign-Urbana by ICE is not known, but records show that ICE has come to Champaign-Urbana at least 38 times since the beginning of the Trump administration.
To view a livestream of the rally, go to Bend the Arc:CU Facebook page or Matt Entin's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/matt.entin/videos/10156467621537485/
Pictures from the rally may be found at: Bend the Arc:CU Court House Rally July 11,2018