MONROE, MI (WTOL) - Most people have never heard of Justin Cheong.
But some believe he's the victim of a witchhunt in Michigan who is now facing deportation.
They belong to a group out of Detroit called BAMN—By Any Means Now, and protested outside a detention center in Monroe where Mr. Cheong and others are held for immigration violations.
He was recently transferred to another center in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
"He was organizing detainees and inspiring them to continue to fight their cases to stay in the area," said Victor Mendez of BAMN.
Mr. Cheong is a Chinese immigr ant, described as a union, civil rights and immigration rights leader.
He made headlines in Detroit, headlines many say landed him behind bars.
"He did so much for the teachers and students of Detroit in leading the movement to the buildup for the sickouts and walkouts in Detroit to get equal quality education and democracy in Detroit," said Nicole Conaway of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
Mr. Cheong has also been involved in similar protest activities at the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkley.
On June 30th, he was arrested by federal agents and sent to the Monroe center.
"The car was pulled over. They didn't say there was a traffic violation or anything. They seemed to know he was in the car," said Mr. Cheong's wife Liana Mulholland.
Protesters say Mr. Cheong is being held without bond, has no criminal record and is not suspected of committing any crimes.
They claim he's behind bars for being born in the wrong country and now faces deportation back to China.
"It's clear political retaliation. Being targeted for his civil rights activism and today we're demanding he immediately be released," said David Douglas of BAMN.
So far, 1500 people have signed petitions to free Justin Cheong.