A coalition of racial and ecological justice groups including Mijente, The American Indian Movement of Ohio, Earth First!, and the Columbus Sanctuary Collective came together with local migration justice activists to take over an ICE office and blockade a busy street for several hours this morning in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The protest was in response to the wave of escalating actions across the country inspired by the national migrant justice group Mijente and their resistance to ICE and Border Patrol. 12 people were arrested over the course of the protest.
This coalition action effectively exposed the existence of a little know ICE office and detention facility located in the LeVeque Tower, a luxury hotel in downtown Columbus, OH. Locking their bodies together with bicycle locks, they refused to leave and were eventually cut out by local firefighters then dragged from the building and arrested by police. At the Same time, activists erected a 35-foot tripod in front of the facility effectively blockading the back door through which ICE officers escorte detainees undetected by the local population. Blockaders were supported by a rally of almost 200 local and regional supporters.
Drought, storms and newly erratic seasons have caused food insecurity in Central America, exacerbating violence and instability in countries that migrants are currently fleeing. The same polluters that eco-defenders work to shut down are implicated in the migration crisis.
The American Indian Movement of Ohio, The Columbus Sanctuary Collective, and Earth First! demand:
1- The immediate abolition of ICE
2 – The immediate reuniting of families
3- No PoliMigra (End collaboration between ICE and other local, state, and federal law enforcement.)
4 – That Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther defy Trump, defend Columbus, and expand Sanctuary
ICE has been highly repressive in Ohio, as in the rest of the country, conducting large raids in recent weeks in Sandusky, Salem, and Massillon. The ICE raid victims were detained and have begun deportation hearings, during which they are generally denied their right to representation and are forbidden to have in-person contact with their families. Children who are left parentless are tossed into foster care or remain imprisoned without a plan for reunification.
Activists from many places on the political spectrum are calling for ICE to not just be reformed, but to be abolished altogether. They point out that the agency has only existed for 15 years, and its record is abysmal.
“We are here to say that we will not stand silently by, and we’ll resist in ways unheard of right here in Columbus, Ohio,” stated Ruben Castilla Herrera, a long-time immigrant justice activist. “The Columbus ICE office is representative of the ICE field office in Detroit, Michigan, and its director, Rebecca Adducci, who is implementing the same cruelness as the Trump administration’s racist mass deportations.”
“Tackling immigration is a complex issue, as there are many different levels: mistreatment of transgender detainees in ICE custody by both ICE officers and other detainees, the impact of the Muslim ban and hate crimes toward the Muslim community, and concern with workers’ rights and migrant workers,” said Delfin Bautista, the director of the Ohio University LGBTQ Center. “There are multiple challenges and complexities, but there are many opportunities for coalition and solidarity across movements in support of immigration reform.