Activists rally at Daley Plaza ahead of possible ICE raids

Cate Cauguiran Image
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Activists rally at Daley Plaza ahead of possible ICE raids
Facing the threat of immigration raids Sunday in Chicago, dozens of immigrant and refugee rights organizations will rally against them Saturday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dozens of immigrant and refugee rights organizations and thousands of people protested and marched ahead of immigration raids threatened to begin Sunday in Chicago.

The rally was held at 11 a.m. at Richard J. Daley Plaza. Speakers included organization leaders, elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and people impacted by the Trump administration's policies.

WATCH: Mahalea Velasco, 12, speaks to crowd of demonstrators

Mahalea Velasco, 12, whose father was deported eight years ago, speaks at the rally "to end criminalization, detention & deportations" Saturday at Chicago's Daley Plaza.

Demonstrators then marched to ICE headquarters, 101 W. Ida B. Wells Drive.

"We came here as immigrants. Immigrants are what have made this country," said Teri Bradley, a protestor who turned out Saturday. "I wish that we could go down to those detention facilities and march on them and convince the people who work for ICE that what they're doing is morally wrong and you can't give up your morals for a job."

"What's happening in our country is not right," said Musette Michael, another protestor.

There were unconfirmed reports Friday that ICE has already been knocking on doors in the city, although there has been no word of any mass raids or arrests.

The threat of immigration raids looms over Chicago, with an enforcement operation expected to start Sunday.

Community organizations are briefing residents across the area in churches, schools and other places about their legal rights and how to handle ICE encounters. Faith groups said they will be doing their part to stand with those communities that are living in fear, and encouraged people to act to help protect people's rights if they see any ICE raids happening.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot previously announced the city would not cooperate with any ICE raids, and Governor JB Pritzker said the state will also not coordinate in any way with federal immigration officials.

Lightfoot also announced the city would provide $250,000 to the city's legal defense fund to help immigrants. She reiterated that ICE has been cut off from any police databases, and police will not provide them any assistance on immigration matters.

"We've been very clear about the fact that our police department is not going to participate, for sure, but also not to facilitate any raids that are going to be taking place," Lightfoot said.

The raids would pursue people with final deportation orders, including families whose immigration cases were fast-tracked by judges in 10 major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Miami.