A handful of immigration activists are planning a march through the Loop to protest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Citizens Academy in Chicago.
Standing outside of the federal agency’s field office in the Loop, the activists announced Monday their plans to march from the building to the Federal Plaza on Sept. 15, which is the same day the academy is expected to start. The march is expected to start at 10 a.m.
Manuel Revueltes, one of the activists, described the academy as a disgrace and said it was irresponsible for the academy to move forward. He believes the academy will lead to increased hate against the immigrant community.
“The only thing it will do is pit the community against each other,” Revueltes said in Spanish.
Sept. 15 also marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The academy will take place six days a week for six weeks with residents gaining insight into the agency’s operations. It will include a trip to one of the jails where immigrants facing deportation are housed in the Chicago area.
“The Citizens Academy also affords ICE the opportunity to hear from participants, understand their perspectives and debunk myths,” the federal agency said in a news release.
An ICE official previously told the Sun-Times the academy is intended to be modeled after other law enforcement academies, and it is not supposed to train regular people to do the work of immigration agents.
But immigration advocates have called for ICE to stop its plans for the academy, worried it will lead to racial profiling of immigrants and to more fear among the immigrant community.
Maria Rogel, another activist, called for the community to come together to oppose the academy that will lead to immigrants fearing their own neighbors. She said the plans come on top of health concerns the community already has because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rev. Jose Landaverde, leader of the Faith, Life and Hope Mission church, said the group during the march will call for an end to deportations, an end to the academy and will call on the government to start accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.