CHICAGO – Some 30 immigrant families accused Monday the Cook Country sheriff’s office and the Chicago Police Department of violating an ordinance that bars them from acting as agents of federal immigration authorities.
“There is a ordinance of sanctuary in force in the county (where Chicago is located) that bars asking about the immigration status of people in custody or police doing the work of immigration,” the Rev. Jose Landaverde told Efe.
Nonetheless, deportations of the undocumented are on the rise thanks to the collaboration of police and the sheriff’s office with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said.
Landaverde, pastor of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission in Chicago’s mainly Mexican Little Village neighborhood, presented families of people under arrest for minor crimes with cases of ICE holding them in county jails.
“They paid their bail but even so they’re kept on hold for 48 hours to allow ICE to start deportation proceedings,” he said.
Among the cases presented was that of Mexican immigrant Jaime Duarte, held by police in Chicago for parking his car in a space reserved for disabled drivers.
Duarte, who had no driver’s license or other ID, ended up in county jail and was kept there by ICE.
Groups for the defense of the undocumented presented Monday a letter to ICE aimed at preventing Duarte’s deportation on grounds that he is responsible for the care of his ailing wife.
According to Landverde, “there are so many other examples,” like that of the immigrant who was arrested by mistake in suburban Elgin and was also handed over to ICE.
Immigrants demanded a decision by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who said last month that his department was considering the possibility of ending its collaboration with ICE.
In a radio interview he said that holding people in prison is costing the county a large amount of money.
Public safety is also harmed because the role of prisons in the immigration problem erodes the immigrant communities’ confidence in the role of law enforcement, he said.
For the activists led by Landaverde, it’s time to act, since besides the extra costs of lodging the undocumented, the sheriff’s office has to deal annually with dozens of civil lawsuits provoked by such action.
The Guadalupe Mission also urged the active intervention of Latino elected officials to help solve the problem, because “all they do is talk.”
In a communique it said that “though politicians want to avoid confrontation, they have to acknowledge the reality of our lives” and intervene to request both the sheriff’s office and the Chicago Police Department to act responsibly. EFE