Immigration Raids Spark Early Protests

By The News Apr 26, 2007

An immigration raid in Little Village in Illinois this week is being called one of the worst. Troopers stormed into a shopping plaza Tuesday toting guns and pointing at families of people to get down. The Chicago Tribune reported April 25:

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald’s announcement Wednesday of federal charges against 22 people linked to a $2 million fake-ID operation in Little Village was intended to promote the closing of a breach in national security. But in a sign of the electric atmosphere that surrounds immigration reform and a planned rally downtown next week, Fitzgerald defended the raid against charges that it was heavy-handed and designed to intimidate those considering taking part in the rally. While Spanish-language radio programs crackled with calls expressing outrage and anxiety over the daylight raid, in which agents with high-powered rifles questioned dozens of customers and workers at a shopping plaza, a group of immigrant advocates crowded into Fitzgerald’s office to confront him at his news conference. "I can assure everyone that the arrests had nothing to do with the rally that’s upcoming," Fitzgerald told them. "There is a great debate going on in our country about the immigration situation. This case is not about that debate."

Chicago’s Mexican community Little Village is not buying it.

Neighborhood residents and local activists, however, saw the action in the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community as an attempt to intimidate people in advance of a planned May 1 march to Daley Plaza in protest of recent federal raids nationwide. Word of the Tuesday raid quickly spread through the neighborhood, with organizers of next week’s march arriving with ready-made signs, drums and megaphones. The crowd closed the intersection of 26th Street and Albany Avenue for hours, chanting in a semicircle as Chicago police directed traffic away.