July 1, 2011
By Niraj Warikoo
U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit) told a crowd last night in Detroit that he was proud to be the son of an illegal immigrant.
Speaking at a forum about racial profiling of Latinos, Clarke — whose late father immigrated from what is now Bangladesh — said:
“I’m the son of an undocumented immigrant — and I’m proud to say that.”
Clarke spoke at the forum Thursday night along with U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit). It was organized by AIR, Alliance for Immigrants Rights, to address concerns about profiling of local Latinos by federal agents.
Elected last year, Clarke is the first U.S. Congressman of Bangladeshi descent. He said at the forum that “we are a nation of immigrants,” noting the contributions of Latino immigrants to southwest Detroit.
After the hearing, Clarke told the Free Press that his father was “more than likely undocumented” when he came to the US. His father immigrated in the 1930s from pre-Partition India, then under British rule, and died in 1965.
The hearing was held at Hope of Detroit Academy, a school that was targeted March 31 by federal agents who went after parents as they were dropping off kids at school. The incident prompted the Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation into the actions of the agents. A union representative has said the agents acted properly.
Also attending Thursday’s hearing were U.S. Attorney for Eastern Michigan Barbara McQuade, and representatives from the ACLU, Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, Hassan Jaber, executive director for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, and Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.