Immigrant rights groups say they expect thousands of people to attend a rally Saturday at Daley Plaza to protest the Trump Administration’s immigration policies ahead of deportation raids officials have said will take place this weekend around the country.
The rally is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m., but many groups planned smaller rallies ahead of time and planned to march to the downtown plaza ahead of time.
“These people are simply asking for a chance to lead good lives and to be part of America’s future. It is shameful to think we have reached this point in this great country,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Friday at the offices of Communities United, a grassroots group that serves immigrant and refugee communities on the Northwest Side.
As worries about the raids, which could start Sunday, mounted, Durbin met privately with undocumented immigrant mothers who fear they will be ripped away from their children.
Mariana, one of the mothers who spoke at the meeting and was afraid of using her full name, said she can’t take her four children to the park without thinking twice.
“All of my children were born here. I have to tell them to be careful about opening our front door. They’re all afraid, and that hurts me the most,” she said. “I’ve been in this country for 20 years. I just want to live a normal life and raise my children with my husband.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcements agents are expected to target thousands of people with outstanding deportation orders in sweeps of major metro areas. The raids will also reportedly include “collateral” deportations of immigrants who were present during a raid even though they were not the intended target.
At a separate press conference Friday, Chicago immigration attorney Chris Bergin called the proposed raids a “publicity stunt” by the Trump administration and said he feared that quotas assigned to ICE agents would lead to people with pending immigration cases being arrested by mistake, due to outdated and incorrect records kept by the agency.
Bergin said agents attempted to arrest one of his clients Friday morning in Edgewater because a deportation order had been issued against her and her 2-year-old daughter when she missed a court date because her court notification was lost in the mail.
A week earlier, Bergin had filed a motion to reopen her case, he said, which should have immediately stopped the deportation order. She was later released from custody.
”You create this whole snowball effect due to a mistake made by ICE,” Bergin said of concern that she and her child could have been separated during the process.
Bergin said the woman, who he declined to name, had made a mistake by talking with ICE agents when they came to her home, and said people who are undocumented should not answer the door if ICE knocks and should not talk to agents about their case. Instead, he said, they should immediately contact an attorney or other official, like an alderman, and ask for help.
He said that ICE agents are not allowed to enter a home without a warrant signed by a judge.
On Thursday, the ACLU of Southern California and others sued the Trump administration to stop the raids. The lawsuit argues the government did not properly serve many immigrants who then failed to appear in court, triggering a deportation order.
“Even when the government sent notices to the right address for a real hearing, it repeatedly sent them too late, for locations unreasonably far from immigrants’ homes,” the lawsuit said. “The Trump administration’s plan to arrest and deport families and children without giving them a fair day in court is both illegal and immoral.”
Durbin said he supports the lawsuit and encouraged others to march at the Saturday rally.
“We have to tell these families we’re on their side, that we’re willing to stand with them in this battle,” Durbin said. “That means we have to step up and speak up, because many of them are afraid to do exactly that.”
Carlos Ballesteros is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South and West sides. Matthew Hendrickson is a staff reporter.