ICE “fugitive” raids in Chicago area

From Sept. 12 to 15, agents from four ICE Fugitive Operations Teams arrested 144 people in Chicago and nearby areas in an operation targeting people who have failed to comply with deportation orders. (ICE calls such people “fugitives” or “absconders.”) Of those arrested, 110 had final orders of deportation; 34 were people without legal immigration status who were encountered by ICE officers during the raids. Those arrested during the four-day operation are from 26 countries: Albania, Belize, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia.

The arrests took place in Chicago; in the Illinois communities of Beach Park, Country Club Hills, Gurnee, Grayslake, Harwood Heights, Libertyville, North Chicago, Nottingham Park, Round Lake, Skokie, Waukegan, Willowbrook and Zion; and in the northern Indiana cities of Elkhart, Goshen, Mishawaka, Nappanee and South Bend. The US Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force assisted ICE with the operation. (ICE news release, Sept. 17)

In Chicago, immigrant advocates called the raids an emblem of a broken system that has separated thousands of families through deportation. As part of Citizenship Day, activists protested on Sept. 17 in Grant Park against increased fees for US citizenship applications; the filing fee for such applications jumped from $400 to $675 on July 30, 2007. Advocates say the increased fees have reduced the number of legal residents applying for citizenship. In Chicago, applications for US citizenship dropped 39% during the first four months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18)

From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 20

See our last post on politics of immigration and the struggle in Chicago.