Deportation Protesters Arrested after Blocking Chicago Street; Follow the Money

By Jerry Kammer on February 17, 2016

Protesting against the deportation of Central Americans who have been ruled ineligible for political asylum after illegally crossing the Mexican border, several people blocked Tuesday morning rush-hour traffic on a major Chicago street near an ICE office.

Eleven of the protesters were arrested, according to the Univision evening newscast. In addition, the Spanish-language news service EFE reported that most of those arrested were "indocumentados".

"Enough of such injustice! We are fighting for all our Central American brothers," protester Estela Vera told the Univision reporter in Spanish. She had chained herself to a ladder that supported a sign that read: "DISMANTLE ICE. DEFUND THE POLICE!" According to today's Chicago Tribune, "protesters chanted 'F--- the police' as they were led to a police van."

Standing off to the side was Maria Mejia, of an unidentified Central American country, who said she and her two children are now in a deportation proceeding. "The truth is we don't want to leave because we feel good in this country," she said.

The protest was organized by a group called Organized Communities Against Deportations, whose fiscal sponsor is the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). On January 1, shortly after the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to deport Central Americans whose asylum petitions have been denied, ICIRR received a $450,000 grant from the Marguerite Casey Foundation. The Seattle-based foundation's website says the grant was intended: "For leadership development and engagement of immigrant and refugee families in organizing and advocacy."

The grant award does not mention Organized Communities Against Deportations. But in January the ICIRR issued a press release declaring that it had "joined Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), and other community leaders this morning to condemn the new campaign of raids."

The Medill News Service last month reported that OCAD was planning a "Know Your Rights" training "where immigrants will learn the precautions they can take in the instance of a raid."