The risk of deportation had one immigration rights advocate fighting for his freedom after he was arrested during a traffic stop.
Brandon Reyes, of Grand Rapids, was detained at the Calhoun County Jail. Family and supporters of the 22-year-old held a news conference Friday calling for help in his swift release.
Reyes and his mother, Marilu Parra, were arrested February 20th by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. His mother was also detained at Calhoun County Jail, but was released Wed. two days prior to the news conference.
Just before their arrest, Reyes’ family said he was putting his passion to action. He was at an event with the Governor, advocating for immigrants to have driver’s licenses in the state of Michigan. It is currently not allowed for undocumented immigrants to have a license in Michigan. Two weeks after the event, Reyes’ family said the he and his mother were detained because she was driving without a license.
“We are happy to have her with us, but she still is really sad that her son is still in Battle Creek,” said Nelly Gudino, Reyes’ cousin.
It was hard for Parra to hold back tears while speaking about her son still being detained.
Gudino said Reyes and his mother were arrested while she was driving him to work. The cousin said family believes ICE had been following their daily routines.
“Knowing what time they left the house, what time they came back, who he would go out with,” said Gudino.
The Latino community and leaders joined her in the fight for his freedom.
“We need to get Brandon out and it needs to happen soon because we don’t know how much longer he’s going to be there,” Sergio Cira, of the West Michigan Latino Network, said.
Reyes was a member of the West Michigan Latino Network.
The advocate’s supporters said he would often work side by side during several immigrant rights events. The group made a public plea for those same leaders to help create a private bill to help in his release.
“We’re here to ask our elected officials, stakeholders, community leaders, the clergy, we’re here to ask them to do something about this. To be more vocal about it, to use their influence and power,” said Cira.
“Now that this has happened to Brandon, we have the community behind us and we know that he’s not alone. And he knows that he’s not alone,” said Gudino.
Reyes came to the U.S. with his family when he was 5-years-old. Family said he claims Grand Rapids as his home. He’s part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which doesn’t provide permanent protection.
Reyes and his mother would have their own court hearings at the end of the month.