Community Organizations, City Officials, Residents Mark Anniversary of Little Village Immigration Raids.
Little Village organizations, city officials, and residents gathered on the first anniversary of the violent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) action of April 24, 2007 to reflect on the destructive effects of immigration enforcement in our communities. Alderman George Cardenas, Latinos Progresando Executive Director Luis Gutierrez, Telpochcalli Elementary Principal Tamara Witzl, Durango Unido President Claudia Lucero, and Salvador Cerna from the office of Congressman Luis Gutierrez were among those present.
The conference reflected on April 24th, 2007 when armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided the Little Village Discount Mall and seized a number of individuals after locking over 150 inside the mall complex for nearly an hour. The raid caused overwhelming panic amongst the shoppers in the mall, and fear in the surrounding community that is still raw today. Now, one year after the Little Village raid, inhumane and counterproductive immigration enforcement continues to harm communities in Chicago and throughout the nation. In late February ICE officials arrested 30 Chicagoland residents in a four-day operation.1 In Chicago and throughout the country anti-immigrant sentiment and community fear are sparked by hateful rhetoric, destructive regulations — such as the proposed use of workplace Social Security number reporting in immigration enforcement2 and the SAVE Act3—and militant local enforcement that detains 230,000 immigrants each year. A recent survey found that more than half of U.S. Latino adults worry that they, or a close friend or family member will be deported,4 and in Chicago and throughout the nation civic engagement is unjustly paralyzed by community fear.
The destructive effects of senseless immigration policy and enforcement are not confined to the immigrant community or limited to certain parts of the city. Immigrants form an integral part of our nation, city, and communities. Chicago is home to about 630,000 foreign born residents—over 20% of the city’s population.5 The spending of undocumented immigrants in Chicagoland generates 31,000 jobs and adds $5.45 billion to the annual gross regional product.6 But no statistics could convey the depth and breadth of the local and regional commitments and contributions of immigrants. Militant immigration enforcement marginalizes dedicated and hard-working community members, alienating many from law enforcement and other institutions, restricting access to opportunity, and forcing hundreds of thousands into the shadows. This stifling of a vibrant sector of local economy and community voice hurts even those Chicago residents and neighborhoods that appear insulated from the issues and challenges of the current flawed immigration system.
We therefore call for an immediate halt to the immigration raids that are traumatizing our communities until a broad-based, humane, and workable solution to America’s broken immigration system can be reached. In the short term, we demand that detention conditions be improved,7 urge Congress to reject further destructive measures such as the SAVE Act, and request improved local dialog and response from both legislators and ICE leaders. But we ultimately wish to emphasize the absolute necessity of comprehensive immigration reform as an urgent and critical need not only for immigrants, but for all of our communities and nation. We must craft an immigration policy that respects human dignity, promotes community stability, and abolishes the tactics of fear and intimidation that are harming our neighborhoods, city, and nation.
Read coverage about last year's raid:
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This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.