Chicago immigrant advocates say ICE agents "raided" a hiring site for local day laborers Friday, and they are demanding an official investigation into the enforcement operation. For its part, ICE said its law enforcement operation was "targeting specific gang members in Chicago."
Chicago immigrant advocates are alleging that local day laborers were racially profiled and had their civil rights violated during a federal immigration enforcement operation last Friday.
Day laborers who are mostly male and Latino and gather at a hiring site at the corner of Belmont and Milwaukee Avenues were reportedly targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials Friday afternoon.
During the enforcement operation, three men were arrested by ICE agents, who were equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners, according to representatives from the Latino Union of Chicago and allied groups.
The immigrant advocates held a press conference at the day laborers' hiring site Tuesday morning, announcing that they have filed a formal request for an official investigation into the ICE "raid."
"There's no other name for government agents targeting a traditional gathering place for Latino men, and forcing them to submit to searches, than to call it racial profiling," said the Latino Union of Chicago's Analia Rodriguez. "This is a grave violation and an example of the racism that drives this country's immigration policies."
For its part, ICE said the three arrests were made on Friday during a law enforcement operation "targeting specific gang members in Chicago."
The agency released the following statement Tuesday after the immigrant advocates held their press conference:
While conducting a law enforcement operation targeting specific gang members in Chicago, an ICE officer and an ICE special agent made three arrests on Friday, and later released one individual after it was determined that he did not fall within ICE enforcement priorities.
ICE routinely conducts targeted enforcement operations to arrest those who fall within our enforcement priorities, including convicted criminals and gang members. These enforcement operations help improve public safety in communities throughout the United States.
The Latino Union of Chicago, however, alleges in its complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties that ICE agents "engaged in racially motivated arrests targeting Latino day laborers and other unconstitutional acts."
The "other unconstitutional acts" include "detention, arrests and fingerprinting without probable cause or reasonable suspicion and based on racial profiling," among other allegations.
"Regardless of the fact that (ICE is) trying to do law enforcement, they still have to abide by people's constitutional rights," Tania Unzueta with Mijente, a political hub "for Latinx & Chicanx organizing," told Progress Illinois at the press conference.
"And any person, regardless if they have papers or not, has those rights," she added. "To me the main message is: no, it's not OK for a group of Latino men to be standing looking for work and for immigration agents to just come and question them and ask them for their fingerprints."
One worker detained during ICE's enforcement operation has since been released because he has a "temporary protective status," according to the immigrant advocates. The two other men were placed in deportation proceedings and remain in custody, the Latino Union of Chicago's complaint states.
"We are demanding that they are released, and we're also asking for ... the three cases to be closed," Rodriguez said. "It is time for transparency and accountability. It is time to stop the racial profiling of our communities, and it is time to stop deportations."
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) stood in solidarity with the immigrant advocates.
"How interesting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was here in an immigrant and Latino community asking people for their fingerprints, but they didn't go downtown and ask the men in their suits for their fingerprints," the alderman said.
Ramirez-Rosa went on to note his support for pending city legislation that would "completely divorce the city of Chicago from ICE" in an effort to show that "our city will say no to raids, will say to no to ICE picking up people in our neighborhoods." The idea is part of the already-proposed amendment to the Welcoming City Ordinance.