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In Michigan this week, dozens of advocates kicked off a 90-mile march from Detroit to Lansing to highlight Donald Trump’s mass-deportation policies — and draw attention to deportation cases like that of Ded Rranxburgaj, a local father who has been living with his wife in sanctuary for the last four months.
Ded and his wife, Flora, originally came from Albania some two decades ago, when the country was undergoing major unrest and the two weren’t allowed to practice their religion. Ded was denied refugee status, but was allowed to stay in the U.S. after his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis so that he could care for her. ICE revoked that permission in October, and is now calling for his deportation. The couple has two sons.
The “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” began earlier this week at the downtown Detroit church where Ded is in sanctuary, and will continue until Tuesday May 22nd. Flora was supposed to march with them, but was unexpectedly hospitalized over Mother’s Day weekend. Now, the pilgrimage will visit her at the hospital where she is being treated, before continuing on to the state capitol, where advocates will rally and pressure lawmakers to protect families like Ded and Flora’s from deportation and separation.
As Rev. Jill Zundel, pastor of Central United Methodist Church, told the News-Herald:
Because ICE will deport Ded if he leaves the church, he cannot visit his wife in the hospital, so we must visit her for him. That is what this pilgrimage to keep families together is about. Ded can’t march to Lansing for himself, so we must march for him.
Ded’s case has received support from members of Congress like Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), who vowed to try and protect families like Ded’s. As Rep. Dingell said:
We need to have comprehensive immigration reform. This is a family that is being torn apart. Flora’s multiple sclerosis requires that someone provide intensive care for her every single day, and that person is Ded. He has been trying to gain legal status for years, and we must have processes that deal with very human situations like this. I am committed to working with Congressman [Luis] Gutiérrez and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Another case the marchers are lifting up is that of Saheeda Perveen Nadeem, who has taken sanctuary in Kalamazoo, Michigan rather than accept deportation to Pakistan. She has not lived in Pakistan for about 40 years, and considers Kalamazoo to be her true home. Her son lives here, and she is a volunteer in the Muslim community as well as a caregiver for orphans and refugees.
View video of the 90-mile march’s kickoff this week: