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Rally held to protest ICE agents allegedly staying in Champaign hotel

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Rally held to protest ICE agents allegedly staying in Champaign hotel

Hundreds of protestors march on Prospect Avenue in Champaign Saturday. The protest rallied against alleged ICE agents staying in a local hotel.

Hundreds of protestors march on Prospect Avenue in Champaign Saturday. The protest rallied against alleged ICE agents staying in a local hotel.

Bercham Kamber

Hundreds of protestors march on Prospect Avenue in Champaign Saturday. The protest rallied against alleged ICE agents staying in a local hotel.

Bercham Kamber

Bercham Kamber

Hundreds of protestors march on Prospect Avenue in Champaign Saturday. The protest rallied against alleged ICE agents staying in a local hotel.

By Brooke Eberle, Brand Manager

A rally was held in protest of the presence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Champaign-Urbana area. The rally took place at Drury Inn & Suites, where ICE agents are believed to stay at when they are in town staging arrests, according to a press release.

Around 300 community members came to the protest, which took place at 11 a.m. Saturday, bringing homemade signs and family members. Protesters marched around the block of the hotel to gain attention from drivers on Prospect Avenue.

Bercham Kamber

 

Ashli Anda, one of the event speakers, said, “Being a Latina community member kind of puts me in this issue, but also I really care about community activism and bringing awareness to issues that are affecting this community.”

Anda stressed this is not just a national issue, but also a local one.

“Something that I’ve been trying to explain to people is that national outlets, or other bigger outlets, kind of report that ICE is detaining people at the border. We’re in Champaign-Urbana, we’re not at the border but ICE is here, so this is actually an issue at home, too, it’s not just far away threat or terror,” she said.

Ellen and Mike Leyerle also came to the protest because they felt a personal stake in the issue as parents of adopted Chinese immigrants. Ellen held a homemade sign that says, “Immigrants are flooding our nation with Nobel Prizes.”

“(My children) have gone to a school with a lot of international kids and the achievement of those families is amazing. They bring so much to our country that I just can’t even imagine why anyone doesn’t embrace that idea,” Ellen said.

Ben Tschetter

 

Stacey McKeever brought her two children to the rally along with her husband and her daughter’s friend.

“We talked with (my daughter) about how it’s important that we need come out here and let people know what is right,” she said.

McKeever talked about the difficulty in deciding how much to tell her daughter about what is going on in the news.

“It’s a little hard because some parents just tell their children what to think and I don’t want to do that. We’re trying to find a balance,” she said.

Ellen Willcox also brought a homemade sign that said, “My grandparents were immigrants.” Willcox said her parents were immigrants, too.

“My parents, in the current political climate, would not have made it in. I don’t know when you come off a boat, where you’re supposed to go if the borders are closed,” Willcox said. ” It’s not like their leaving because they don’t have their nail polish color in their country; it’s because they’re worried for their lives.”

Willcox also felt personally saddened when she learned families were being separated.

“It’s wrong, it’s inhumane. There’s due-process of law that they’re supposed to have,” she said. “People coming across the borders are being slandered by calling them murders or rapists; that’s ridiculous. How many 2-year-old murders or rapists do you know?”

Ben Tschetter

 

There are 7,000-11,000 undocumented immigrants in Champaign County, according to the press release.

The rally was supported by several local organizations, including Three Spinners, Graduate Employees Organization at UI, Campus Faculty Association, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, Prairie Greens, Champaign-Urbana Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism , Prairie Greens, Sanctuary of the People and Connect Kankakee.

Ben Tschetter

 

“I just want to push the message that there’s a tendency or a temptation to stay out of politics because it’s complicated and messy and painful, but that’s just unacceptable and morally irresponsible to ignore an issue like this that’s happening,” Anda said.

Drury Inn & Suites could not be reached for comment.

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