During an emotional and heated public hearing, aimed at giving feedback about the controversial Secure Communities program, dozens of activists walked out to block West Washington Street and an exit ramp from I-94 freeway.
“Stop the lies and terminate the program,” immigration activists and supporters chanted as they walked out of the hall, where the public hearing was held.
The Immigrant Youth Justice League, an organization of undocumented youth seeking immigration reform, blocked traffic on Washington, later moving and blocking the Jackson Street exit ramp from the I-94 freeway. Chicago police arrested six undocumented youth.
“We face [deportation] every day,” said Tania Unzueta, spokeswoman for the group. “The people who got arrested today could face deportation for something like this … something so American as expressing your First Amendment right.”
Unzueta said the group of students arrested, including Fanny Martinez, Arianna Salgado and Miguel Martinez, had planned to be arrested during the public hearing. The students wanted to take action to show how “ridiculous” the program really is, she said.
Secure Communities enforcement program, in which participating local enforcing agencies share fingerprints with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to identify undocumented immigrants, has come under fire for deporting immigrants with no criminal record.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton announced his agency would use discretion to drop cases against victims of crimes, students and children.
The newly formed Secure Communities Task Force has been holding meetings in several cities across the country seeking feedback from the community.
More than 800 people attended the public hearing in Chicago on Wednesday night inside the IBEW union hall.
Photo credit: Jason Reblando
© Community Renewal Society 2011