‘Excited, happy, thankful’: ACLU frees ICE detainee ahead of Christmas

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan man picked up by U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement four months ago is now free, released after the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sued to get him out of jail.

Arleen Xirum picked up her husband Friday from the ICE detention center at the Calhoun County Correctional Facility.

“Seriously, like my heart is exploding,” Xirum said. “I am very excited, very happy, very thankful.”

She said her husband Oscar Xirum-Sanchez and their two little girls will be a family again just in time for the holidays.

“It’s even more special because it’s right before Christmas,” she said.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit against ICE in April and since then has been working to get detainees who are at high risk to develop a serious case of COVID-19 out of federal custody.

“People are in grave danger,” Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said.

Xirum-Sanchez, who has a preexisting condition, contracted COVID-19 while in ICE custody at the jail, which in October was seeing an outbreak of the virus in the pod that mostly houses immigrants.

“There are three families being reunited today,” Aukerman said. “As a result of this case, there have been about approximately 40 families that have been reunited.”

As Xirum journeyed down the road with her husband and their children in mind, she looked ahead to new beginnings, leaving their past in her rear-view mirror.

“God answered our prayers,” she said. “It’s a good feeling.”

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