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Latino groups: ICE racially profiled day laborers at pickup site

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), shown here meeting with activists, has called for eliminating some exceptions to protections provided in Chicago's Welcoming City ordinance. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

A coalition of Latino and immigrants rights organizations on Tuesday accused the Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of racial profiling after a raid Friday at a North Side site where day laborers await work.

ICE agents converged on the site, a Shell gas station at the corner of Belmont and Milwaukee, equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners and demanded that the Latino workers submit their hands for scanning.

Three workers were eventually handcuffed and taken to a detention center. At least one of the three had legal Temporary Protective Status, but he had to spend the weekend in detention until ICE processed and released him on Monday.

“He was actually detained the entire weekend without having to be there. It wasn’t until Monday that ICE actually figured out that ‘Ooops! We shouldn’t have taken this person,’ ” Analia Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago, said at a press conference at the Shell station.

Analia Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

Analia Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

“This is a clear violation of these workers’ Fourth Amendment rights prohibiting search without cause. There is 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,” Rodriguez said. “Donald Trump may be proud of [this] agency, but anyone else should consider this a shame, a grave violation, and an example of the racism that drives this country’s immigration policies.”

Latino Union joined with Organized Communities Against Deportations and the national #Not1More campaign in filing an official request for an investigation into the incident by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

A spokeswoman for the Chicago office of ICE said the raid and detentions were part of an ICE operation targeting Chicago gang members.

“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,” spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said.

“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,” Montenegro added.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) with youth activists from the Logan Square Neighborhood Association at the press conference. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) with youth activists from the Logan Square Neighborhood Association at the press conference. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

In addition to the civil rights complaint, the three groups filed prosecutorial discretion requests seeking release of the raided workers and closing of their cases. They also filed a Freedom Of Information Act request with the Chicago Police Department, demanding to know what role, if any, or advanced notice CPD may have had in relation to the raids.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) said proposed legislation before the City Council would address and prevent such alleged racial profiling — more expected in the state of Arizona than the city of Chicago.

“The time is now to pass ordinances that completely divorce the city of Chicago from ICE. There are ordinances being considered by the City Council that would do that,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “What we have said is that these ordinances need to pass, in case there’s a President Trump. But let’s look at the reality. Under President Obama, we’ve had too many deportations. I know many of my colleagues in the Chicago City Council support the proposed ordinances. With the community behind it, I think we’re going to get it done.”