2018-03-29 / Front Page

School dropoff followed by arrest

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

A Lake Leelanau man is sitting in a jail cell in Sault Ste. Marie after federal agents arrested him.

The man, who had just dropped his children off at Leland Public School last Thursday, was pulled over by an unmarked black F-150 on M-204 and taken into custody.

The agents were from Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) with the Department of Homeland Security made the arrest. Efforts to contact ICE officials for comment were not successful.

Some say the Leland man’s apprehension is unjust while others say the agency is just doing its job. ICE is obligated to enforce federal law as written, says county Sheriff Mike Borkovich. He added that part of its work includes making certain that noncitizens in the U.S. are here legally.

“I’m frustrated with the lack of respect shown ICE,” saud Borkovich, who was not in town when the arrest was made last week. “They are charged to enforce the law. They can’t pick and choose which ones.” Advocates for illegal immigrants note the apprehension was the most recent in a series of events that have become more frequent in the past several months.

They have caused anxiety within the county Hispanic population.

“ICE has been quite active ... I’d say more than ever in Leelanau County,” said the Rev. Wayne Dziekan, director of the Secretariat for Justice & Peace for the Catholic Diocese of Gaylord. “This is at least the third in the past several months.”

Dziekan is known to local Catholics when he served as parish priest at St. Michael the Archangel in Suttons Bay.

No longer assigned a parish, Dziekan is charged with spreading Catholic social doctrine throughout the diocese and beyond in his current position.

His job Tuesday took him to Sault Ste. Marie where ICE holds detainees after they’ve been picked up in northern Michigan.

There, just like he has done many times before with other illegal immigrants, he met with the detainee to see what he can do to help.

“I try to connect with people but it’s not easy,” said Dziekan, who is fluent in Spanish. “I often feel like I can’t do a whole lot.”

He refutes claims that many detainees are serious criminals. And many of those who have been in trouble with the law have reformed, he added.

“A lot of people get in trouble when they are young,” Dziekan said. “And that throws up a red flag.”

There are a couple ways things can go for those without a “legal presence,” he added.

Many are asked to sign a “voluntary departure” agreement — or deportation agreement — that will send them back to their country of origin.

The process could take three to more than five or six weeks.

Others appear before an immigration judge in Detroit via video feed.

“They have no right to have an attorney to present their case,” Dziekan said.

Some detainees are able to bond out as their case goes through the court. However, as a condition of bond they are required to check in with ICE on specific dates — in Detroit — a four to five hour drive away.

Dziekan said the diocese has been able to help with detainees on occasion. The diocese works with the Justice and Peace Advocacy Center (JPAC), a nonprofit formed by him and former county resident Gladys Munoz.

Dziekan and Munoz have been helping migrant workers for more 20 years; the JPAC secured non-profit status in 2006.

They do what they can to help those detained and family members left behind, many of them children.

Community members have also stepped up to help.

“These families are well-known and loved in the county,” Dziekan said, acknowledging that many work in Leelanau’s agricultural industry. “Thanks be to God, people jump in to find way to help them.”

He sees the only solution as comprehensive immigration reform and encourages supporters to contact their representatives in Washington, D.C.

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