By Wendy Rosen
CWTA Beat Reporter – Immigration
The surprise immigration raids slipped quietly through the news cycle in February. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents made 680 immigrants arrests across the country in a “targeted enforcement operation.”
The seven-day raid in the Chicago area began on Feb. 4. ICE agents swept the region arresting 15 people in Chicago and 33 people in suburbs spanning from Wheaton to Waukegan. Many of those arrested had prior convictions ranging from DUIs to criminal sexual assault. Others had no criminal records at all.
Gutierrez: asked to leave
An article in The Atlantic cited U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, representing Illinois’s 4th congressional district, saying he has seen these activities before: “unannounced raids. Reports that federal agents had detained immigrants who posed no threat, who had committed no crime, whose children were Americans citizens, who were not targets of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” The Atlantic said. But under previous administrations they had slowed and stopped.
Gutierrez, a well-known champion of immigration reform and a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, asked to meet with ICE officials after the raids. Instead, he and others were asked to leave the Feb. 16 meeting with lawmakers and ICE acting Director Tom Homan. Gutierrez tweeted, “I was asked to leave the meeting with #ICE by @SpeakerRyan staff. Never before in 20 plus years has this happened.”
— Luis V. Gutierrez (@RepGutierrez) February 16, 2017
Then, on April 12, the Washington Post leaked an internal Department of Homeland Security Assessment revealing the Trump administration’s proposal. DHS plans to quickly hire thousands of additional border patrol and ICE agents, deputize local police to act as immigration officers, and speed up deportation hearings. In fall 2016, the US government was detaining 41,000 immigrants per day, but the Trump White House detailed in a memo its plan to raise that number to 80,000, according to Mother Jones. The agency has identified more than 33,000 detention beds in commercial and government prisons – and more contracts will surely be let. Many fear that Trump’s immigration plan opens the doors for large scale roundups and detentions, and is a far cry from targeting only the “bad hombres” Trump referred to on the campaign trail. The price tag for this proposed mass deportation is in the billions. Funding for the border wall alone — a key element — is estimated at more than $20 billion.
Economists urge focus on immigration opportunity
As envisioned, Trump’s immigration plan would not only rip families apart but would also ravage our economy. A group of nearly 1500 economists, both conservative and progressive, including several Nobel Laureates, signed an open letter to the President, urging “Congress to modernize our immigration system in a way that maximizes the opportunity immigration can bring, and reaffirms continuing the rich history of welcoming immigrants to the United States.” The economists agree that, “With the proper and necessary safeguards in place, immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.”
DEMAND: A fair and humane immigration policy that puts families first, dismantles inhumane deportation practices, and strategically secures our borders. This is the message concerned citizens need to deliver to their members of Congress (MoC’s) during this April Congressional recess.
Congress needs to pass a funding bill by April 28th to avert a government shutdown. Let your MoC’s know that your priority is essential services such as education, housing and healthcare and that you do not want a border wall, expanded deportation forces, and more detention facilities. These proposals target and harm our nation’s undocumented residents AND our economy.
ACT: Stand up with Rep. Gutierrez and immigrant activists for fair and just immigration reform on May 1st at the May Day Rally.
The May Day Rally is one of many labor oriented actions at Union Park on May 1, or International Workers Day beginning at 11 a.m. The Immigration Rally begins at 1 p.m. and continues throughout the day:
May 1, 2017
1501 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60606
May Day Rally
Follow Chicago Immigration News at the ICIRR Website.