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EDITORIAL: Don’t blame cops for Pilsen raid and a woman’s arrest by ICE

Ald. Danny Solis has filed a complaint with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability over a raid on a Pilsen mini-market at 18th and Ashland. | Google Streetview

Ald. Danny Solis is mad at the Chicago Police Department.

He says the police violated Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance by working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in an Aug. 1 raid of a mini-market in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Oh, please. Solis ought to direct his anger at the store owner, who the police say had roughly 500 counterfeit items on sale. If that is accurate, the store owner bears sole responsibility for the raid.

EDITORIAL

The store owner, too, should be blamed for putting his store clerk in the crosshairs of ICE. The clerk is an undocumented immigrant and a mother of three kids. She was questioned by federal authorities, not Chicago Police, and taken into custody. Her sole offense, apparently, is being undocumented.

Ald. Danny Solis at a City Council meeting in 2016. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times
Ald. Danny Solis at a City Council meeting in 2016. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times

The clerk would be home with her kids today, instead of facing deportation, if not for suspected illegal activity in the store.

We don’t think Chicago cops should be doing the job of the feds when it comes to immigration — helping ICE round up longtime residents of the city who are undocumented immigrants.

In this case, best we can see, the police did not do that.

There was apparently no violation of Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance, put in place in 2012, that says cops will not “arrest, detain or continue to detain a person solely on the belief that the person is not present legally in the United States.”

The cops went after illicit activity: the sale of counterfeit goods. It was a legitimate law enforcement operation allowed under the Welcoming City ordinance.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told us CPD’s vice unit began investigating the store in July after complaints were referred from the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. When vice learned of possible counterfeit and trademark infringement of sports paraphernalia, such as jerseys and hats, it teamed with city, county and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and ICE.

ICE routinely gets involved in cases of counterfeit goods as part of its customs patrol responsibilities, though it is known mostly for its enforcement of immigration laws. Under President Donald Trump, it has been given broad authority to deport undocumented immigrants, even those who pose no danger to their communities. It’s no surprise then that the agency instills fear in immigrant neighborhoods and spurs protests.

We wish ICE had left the Pilsen store clerk alone. Under a different administration, that very well would have been the case.

There’s a lesson here for businesses that engage in shady practices: You are inviting the cops and possibly the feds to check you out. You are putting your community at risk. And if you work in such an establishment, do yourself a favor and get out.

That’s the message Ald. Solis should have sent, instead of beating up on the cops for nothing.

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