WBEZ | deportations http://www.wbez.org/tags/deportations Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Lawyers fear speedy deportations harm minors http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyers-fear-speedy-deportations-harm-minors-110715 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rocket docket.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lawyers who work with unaccompanied, illegal child migrants in Chicago are raising the alarm over new fast-track deportations, saying the process may result in a denial of due process in court. Referring to the expedited schedulings as the &ldquo;rocket docket,&rdquo; many fear that children may be scheduled for court hearings so quickly that they may not have time to find lawyers, or if they do, their lawyers will not have enough time to craft a defense case. Ultimately, this could result in more children returning to the dangerous environments that they&rsquo;d fled.</p><p>&ldquo;We somehow got notice of hearings that they had been scheduled to attend in Chicago on a Monday, and this was on a Thursday or Friday when they contacted us, &rdquo; said Lisa Koop, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center. &ldquo;We thought it was a fluke or a glitch in the system.&rdquo;</p><p>The NIJC helps thousands of immigrant children that pass through federal shelters in Chicago. Koop said kids who arrived in the Spring originally had seven or eight months between the time the Department of Homeland Security filed a Notice to Appear in Chicago&rsquo;s immigration court, and the &ldquo;master calendar hearing,&rdquo; which signals the opening of removal proceedings against an immigrant. But those hearings have suddenly been moved up several months, to August.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not a lot of time to secure an attorney, begin to develop case theory, start to strategize about how this case ought to be prepared and presented moving forward,&rdquo; said Koop.</p><p>In fact, Koop said scores of children whose master calendar hearings were moved up had not even received notice of the change.</p><p>&ldquo;We very quickly learned a lot of the children weren&rsquo;t aware they had these hearings,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;either because the notices hadn&rsquo;t reached them yet or because the notices had been sent to an incorrect address.&rdquo;</p><p>The address discrepancies were likely because the child had been reunited with family elsewhere in the country shortly after the Notice to Appear had been filed in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve really shifted gears and our whole staff is just calling all of these kids that are on dockets, and trying to figure out where they are, and letting them know they have court,&rdquo; she said. Koop said NIJC attorneys have been getting permission from the children to move to change venue for the children&rsquo;s cases. On one day earlier this month, they filed 200 motions for change of venue on behalf of kids that once, but no longer, were sheltered in Chicago.</p><p>The U.S. is dealing with record numbers of unaccompanied children coming across the Southwest border. In the ten months leading up to August, nearly <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/SWB%20Family%20and%20UAC%20Apps%20through%20July.pdf">63,000</a> were caught. More than three-quarters come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Koop said nearly 60 percent of the children that the NIJC screens in Chicago shelters are eligible for asylum, or some other form of protection against removal.</p><p>&ldquo;Our concern is that there is a compromise of due process when they&rsquo;re required to press forward with a case before they&rsquo;re able to fully prepare it, before they&rsquo;re able to have any opportunity to recover from whatever trauma or negative experience gave rise to the need for them to flee,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Attorneys who work with unaccompanied minors say trauma, and deep emotional distress, is common among child migrants. Alex, a 17-year old Salvadorian who fled his home two years ago to avoid recruitment to a gang, is one example. Because he fears reprisals against his family, WBEZ is not using his full name.</p><p>&ldquo;I had been jumped on three occasions and I didn&rsquo;t feel safe. I wanted to move... from my home to another place, but I didn&rsquo;t know where to go,&rdquo; said Alex. &ldquo;My country is small and the gangs are everywhere. My dad had also become afraid that they might kill me, or something. He said maybe the best way for me to get away from them would be to come to the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>Alex&rsquo;s father arranged for him to take buses and cars with strangers from El Salvador, through Guatemala, into Mexico, and ultimately across the U.S. border. He made the journey with dozens of others. But after days walking and sleeping in the desert, they were caught by border patrol.</p><p>Alex was taken to a children&rsquo;s shelter in Houston, where lawyers tried to start working on his case. But he fell into a deep depression.</p><p>&ldquo;When I had those problems, I didn&rsquo;t want to talk to anyone,&rdquo; Alex said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to leave my room. I just stayed in bed.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawyers couldn&rsquo;t help Alex in that condition, so they transferred him to a mental health treatment center for nine months. Ultimately, Alex recovered and won asylum. He&rsquo;s 17 now, and lives with family in Chicago.</p><p>Without that time to recover, Alex said he wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to help his lawyer understand why returning home would be dangerous. Under the new docket system, he likely would have been sent back. That&rsquo;s what lawyers fear will happen now to other children.</p><p>The Department of Justice&rsquo;s Executive Office for Immigration Review confirmed that it&rsquo;s prioritizing children&rsquo;s removal cases, but denied that it compromises due process. In an email to WBEZ, a spokeperson wrote &ldquo;...the immigration judge ensures that the individual understands the alleged immigration law violations. The judge also provides information on available free or low-cost legal representation resources in the area.&rdquo;</p><p>But lawyers who help migrant children say that&rsquo;s not enough. It often takes several months for children to schedule a legal screening and to secure an attorney who&rsquo;s willing to take the case for free. Experts who work with the children say they hope immigration judges across the country will grant children continuances in their cases, to allow them extra time to find counsel. But even that may not be enough.</p><p>&ldquo;The rubber&rsquo;s really going to meet the road when the children show up after these several weeks of their continuance, and what the judge does if the child does not have an attorney,&rdquo; said Megan McKenna of Kids in Need of Defense, a New York-based nonprofit that helps migrant children find pro bono attorneys across the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re going to be seeing is 70-90 percent of these children will not be represented in their deportation proceedings,&rdquo; McKenna added, &ldquo;and that can mean children being sent back to situations of harm, and this is the harm they fled.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Vocalo&rsquo;s <a href="https://twitter.com/NorthsideLou">Luis Antonio Perez</a> contributed translation for this story.<br />Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau Reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyers-fear-speedy-deportations-harm-minors-110715 Protesters want Obama to end mass deportations http://www.wbez.org/news/protesters-want-obama-end-mass-deportations-109982 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/protest1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than 200 people, including groups of children, are staging a two-day march drawing attention to mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. The protesters want the Obama administration to end the practice by executive order.</p><p>The march, which began this morning at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in downtown Chicago before heading west. It is an extension of this past weekend&rsquo;s National Day of Action against deportations.</p><p>As of this month, around 2 million undocumented people have been deported since Barack Obama took office, which is approaching the record set by his predecessor, George W. Bush.</p><p>Immigration reform advocates have shifted their focus recently&nbsp; to putting an emphasis on the number of mass deportations. Previously their priority was pushing for immigration reform legislation. An immigration bill passed the U.S. Senate early last year but has stalled in the House since June).</p><p>&ldquo;Two million (is) too many,&rdquo; says Rosi Carrasco, with Organized Communities Against Deportations. &ldquo;It is possible to stop deportations with the organization, determination, and strength of our community. President Obama can use his executive authority to avoid that detention centers continue to profit from human suffering.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago-area protests will continue into tomorrow. Lawrence Benito is executive director of the Illinois Commission for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and he says the focus on mass deportations highlights the continued frustration he has with Obama -- who he said pledged to pursue immigration reform as an agenda item he would tackle during his second term.</p><p>&ldquo;He promised our communities that passing immigration reform would be a priority,&rdquo; says Benito. &ldquo;Instead he has prioritized enforcement. He can remedy the situation while Congress debates immigration reform, through administrative relief.&rdquo;</p><p>Advocates want the president to take the same approach he did in 2012 when he ended the deportation for so-called &ldquo;Dreamers,&rdquo; young people who were brought into the country with undocumented relatives.&nbsp;</p><p>Marchers began their demonstration at ICE shortly after 10 a.m today. Their route wends through the city, including a stop in the heavily Latino South Side community of Pilsen, before decamping tonight in the western suburbs.</p><p>Tuesday&rsquo;s events are scheduled to start at the Broadview Detention Center. That is where more people are scheduled to take part in civil disobedience protests.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Host/Producer Yolanda Perdomo on <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p></p> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/protesters-want-obama-end-mass-deportations-109982 Conservative legal group challenges Cook County immigration policy http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-legal-group-challenges-cook-county-immigration-policy-106782 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP111129143637.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Invoking the Boston Marathon bombings, a national conservative group has filed a lawsuit aimed at a Cook County ordinance that requires jail personnel to disregard federal immigration detainers.</p><p>Washington-based Judicial Watch says the county has no legal right to ignore the detainers, which are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that local jails hold specified individuals up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require.</p><p>President Obama&rsquo;s administration says the detainers, which help ICE put the inmates into deportation proceedings, are crucial for focusing immigration enforcement on criminals.</p><p>Cook County officials say detainers also erode community trust in local police. In 2011, the County Board approved an ordinance that halted detainer compliance by the county&rsquo;s massive jail. ICE abruptly lost convenient access to hundreds of immigration violators each year.&nbsp;Lawmakers in other parts of the country, meanwhile, approved bills modeled after the policy.</p><p>The suit, which claims federal law preempts the ordinance, asks Cook County Circuit Court to strike down the local measure and compel Sheriff Tom Dart to comply with the detainers.&nbsp;The suit accuses Dart of &ldquo;failure to carry out his legal duties under both federal and state law.&rdquo;</p><p>At a Monday press conference Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton pointed to last week&rsquo;s news events. &ldquo;In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, there is a national-security component to these detainers by ICE.&rdquo;</p><p>Authorities say two Chechen immigrants &mdash; one a permanent-resident visa holder, the other a naturalized U.S. citizen &mdash; are suspected of having planted the bombs that exploded April 15 in Boston.</p><p>Judicial Watch is representing the suit&rsquo;s plaintiff, Chicago&nbsp;resident&nbsp;Brian McCann, who is the brother of a pedestrian killed in a 2011 hit-and-run collision in Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood. The alleged driver, a Mexican immigrant named Saúl Chávez, had a DUI conviction. He&nbsp;was arrested and charged with the hit and run. A Cook County judge set the bond at $250,000.</p><p>ICE suspected Chávez was in the country illegally and slapped a detainer on him. But after the county enacted the ordinance, Chávez posted $25,000&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;the required 10 percent of the bond. He walked free and went missing.</p><p>&ldquo;Dart is thumbing his nose at the federal government and replacing federal immigration priorities with Cook County&rsquo;s own immigration policy,&rdquo; Fitton said. &ldquo;Releasing these criminal aliens before they can be taken into custody by ICE endangers the public.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitton echoed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton, who have said the Cook County ordinance threatens public safety.</p><p>That claim was the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190" target="_blank">WBEZ investigation</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;found that inmates freed as a result of the ordinance had not reoffended or jumped bail more than other former inmates had.</p><p>Dart&rsquo;s office, in a statement late Monday, pointed to the sheriff&rsquo;s support for allowing the county to honor ICE detainers for inmates charged with violent offenses and inmates with a number of prior convictions.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 16:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-legal-group-challenges-cook-county-immigration-policy-106782 Cook County’s disregard of ICE detainers catches on http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county%E2%80%99s-disregard-ice-detainers-catches-100818 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SecureCommunitiesRallyNYCscale.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 375px; width: 250px; " title="Diana Mejia of Madison, N.J., prays during a 2011 rally in New York City to condemn Secure Communities, a U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement program that relies on jail compliance with agency requests known as detainers. (AP file/Mary Altaffer)" />A Cook County policy of disregarding immigration detainers is catching on. Lawmakers in other parts of the country, most recently the District of Columbia on Tuesday, have approved bills modeled after the policy.</p><p>Some Republicans are pressing President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration to take reprisals against those jurisdictions. In a hearing Tuesday, the chairwoman of a U.S. House homeland security panel urged Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton to punish Cook County for its stand.</p><p>The detainers &mdash; ICE requests that local jails hold specified individuals up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require &mdash; help put the inmates into deportation proceedings. Jail compliance with detainers is a key part of Secure Communities, a program that has helped the Obama administration shift immigration enforcement toward criminals.</p><p>Cook County officials say detainers also erode community trust in local police. Last September, the County Board approved an ordinance that halted detainer compliance by the county&rsquo;s massive jail. ICE abruptly lost convenient access to hundreds of immigration violators each year.</p><p>&ldquo;The Cook County legislation was very critical and a part of the development for the legislation in the District of Columbia,&rdquo; said Ron Hampton, a retired Metropolitan Police officer in the nation&rsquo;s capital who has pushed the D.C. bill.</p><p>Hampton pointed to a legal opinion that supporters of the Cook County measure obtained from State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office last year. That opinion, citing a federal court ruling in Indiana, called detainer compliance voluntary and helped convince the Cook County Board to approve the ordinance. Hampton said the opinion added weight to what he called &ldquo;a model piece of legislation.&rdquo;</p><p>Since the Cook County ordinance passed, New York City, the state of Connecticut and the California county of Santa Clara have also curtailed their compliance with immigration detainers.</p><p>On July 5, the California Senate approved similar legislation that would affect the entire state. That bill is expected to pass the state Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has not indicated whether he would sign it into law.</p><p>At the U.S. House hearing, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Michigan) said Secure Communities had &ldquo;excellent buy-in&rdquo; from jurisdictions across the nation. Miller, chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, called Cook County &ldquo;the big holdout&rdquo; and asked Morton about it.</p><p>Morton repeated an administration claim that Cook County&rsquo;s disregard of ICE detainers compromised public safety. That claim was the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190">WBEZ investigation</a> completed in May. Inmates freed as a result of the ordinance, the investigation found, have not reoffended or jumped bail more than other former inmates have.</p><p>Morton also told the subcommittee about letters he had written to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to spell out his concerns. &ldquo;We have been working with the county to see if there isn&rsquo;t some solution,&rdquo; Morton said. &ldquo;I won&rsquo;t sugarcoat it. I don&rsquo;t think that that approach is going to work in full. We&rsquo;re going to need the help of others. We have been exploring our options under federal law with the Department of Justice.&rdquo;</p><p>Morton said he would also push for a cutoff of some federal funds for the county&rsquo;s jail.</p><p>That vow won praise from Miller. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how delighted I am,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re not going to assist us in removing not only criminal aliens but those that might go on to commit a terrorist attack or what-have-you, because they want to have their city become a sanctuary, the federal government cannot stand by idly and allow that to happen.&rdquo;</p><p>As other jurisdictions adopt the Cook County approach, some enforcement advocates are calling for a tougher federal response.</p><p>Ira Mehlman, spokesman of the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, points out that the Obama administration has sued states such as Arizona and Alabama for taking immigration enforcement into their own hands</p><p>&ldquo;Yet, when it comes to jurisdictions that have openly defied federal enforcement, then the Justice Department seems to have enormous patience and is extremely lenient,&rdquo; Mehlman said.</p></p> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 16:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county%E2%80%99s-disregard-ice-detainers-catches-100818 Immigration enforcement program faces novel suit http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ColoradoFingerprinting.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 214px; height: 250px; " title="A sheriff’s deputy in Centennial, Colo., prepares to fingerprint a suspect as part of booking into the Arapahoe County Justice Center. Secure Communities runs the fingerprints of everyone booked into jail against immigration records. (AP File/Chris Schneider)" />We&rsquo;ve been hearing a lot about how immigration enforcement intersects with local law enforcement. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. Now we&rsquo;ll hear from our West Side bureau about a suburban Chicago man who got tangled up with immigration enforcement after a drug arrest. He has filed a suit that offers a novel challenge to one of President Obama&rsquo;s key immigration-enforcement programs.</p><p>MITCHELL: There&rsquo;s no doubt James Makowski of Clarendan Hills did something illegal. In 2010 police caught him with heroin and he pleaded guilty to that. A judge approved him for a state-run boot camp. But that&rsquo;s not where Makowski ended up.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I thought I would be home in 120 days but -- then after I get a note back from a counselor, after I&rsquo;d asked about when I&rsquo;d be shipping to boot camp -- she said that I was ineligible for boot camp due to an immigration detainer.</p><p>MITCHELL: That&rsquo;s basically a flag in his file from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE. So . . .</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I got sent to the maximum-security penitentiary in Pontiac.</p><p>MITCHELL: And he stayed for about two months. How did this happen? It comes down to an ICE program called Secure Communities. In that program, FBI fingerprint data about people booked at local jails get run against immigration data. If a check yields a match, ICE can issue one of its detainers. The point is to catch people in the criminal justice system who are not authorized to be in the U.S. and eventually deport them. The thing is, Makowski had every right to be in the country.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I feel like I got punished twice for what I did in my past.</p><p>MITCHELL: Makowski&rsquo;s detention was based on faulty information. He was born in India and adopted by a U.S. family. When he was 1, the government granted him citizenship. But &mdash; at age 22, when he got picked up on the heroin charge &mdash; the feds didn&rsquo;t have their records right. So, Makowski stayed in that maximum-security pen before authorities straightened things out and let him into the boot camp. On Tuesday, Makowski filed a federal suit over all this. Defendants include top officials at the FBI, ICE and their parent departments. Makowski claims that when the FBI shared data with ICE &mdash; and when ICE didn&rsquo;t keep track of his citizenship status &mdash; they violated his rights under the U.S. Privacy Act. Legal experts say the suit appears to be the first challenge to Secure Communities under that law. Makowski&rsquo;s attorneys include Mark Fleming of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center.</p><p>FLEMING: There [are] simple ways in which both the FBI and ICE could be in compliance with the Privacy Act.</p><p>MITCHELL: Fleming says ICE could, for example, interview suspected immigration violators before slapping detainers on them.</p><p>FLEMING: Unfortunately, the system does not provide those basic checks right now and, so, there are many more U.S. citizens that are getting wrapped up into this.</p><p>MITCHELL: Officials at ICE and the departments of Justice and Homeland Security did not answer our questions about the suit Tuesday (see&nbsp;<a href="#note">UPDATE</a>). An FBI spokesman said his agency does not comment about pending litigation outside the courtroom. But a supporter of tougher immigration controls doubts that the Privacy Act protects U.S. citizens from what Makowski endured. Jessica Vaughan directs policy studies for a Washington group called the Center for Immigration Studies. Vaughan says the FBI and ICE share the fingerprint information for legitimate law-enforcement purposes.</p><p>VAUGHAN: Mistakes can be made. But that is not necessarily a reason to throw out the whole system.</p><p>MITCHELL: Vaughan says it&rsquo;s important to keep something else in mind.</p><p><a name="note"></a></p><p>VAUGHAN: The individual who&rsquo;s filing this suit would not have had anything to worry about had he not been convicted of a serious crime to begin with. He was convicted of a drug crime.</p><p>MITCHELL: Convicted he was. But Makowski says no one should have to serve extra time behind bars because of errors in immigration records.</p><p><em>After a deadline for Tuesday&rsquo;s broadcast of this story, ICE provided this statement: &ldquo;The information-sharing partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI serves as the cornerstone of Secure Communities, and fulfills a mandate required by federal law. This information sharing does not violate the Privacy Act. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is evaluating the allegations contained in the lawsuit; however, we do not comment on pending litigation.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>The ICE statement continues: &ldquo;In December ICE announced a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline &mdash; (855) 448-6903 &mdash; that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services are available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern), seven days a week. ICE personnel collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office for immediate action.&rdquo;</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Jul 2012 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 Crete leader slams Chicago immigrant activists http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-12/crete-leader-slams-chicago-immigrant-activists-97809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.wbez.org/" alt="" /><p><div class="image-insert-image "><img class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/march_1.jpg" style="margin: 6px 0px 0px 1px; float: left; width: 228px; height: 343px;" title="Marchers arrive Sunday afternoon in Crete after a three-day trek from Chicago. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)"></div><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><em>Listen to Chip Mitchell discuss this story on </em>Eight Forty-Eight</span></p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1333389318-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/120402%20a%20-%20chip.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The leader of a Chicago suburb where a private company wants to build an immigrant detention center says he and other town officials are having a hard time gauging public support for the plan because Chicago-based protesters have come in and whipped people “into a frenzy.”</p><p>“I’m not responsible to the people of Little Village,” said Crete President Michael Einhorn, referring to a heavily immigrant Chicago neighborhood where a three-day march against the proposal began Friday. “I’m not responsible for anybody else except the people who live inside the boundaries of this town.</p><p>“But the outside interference and the outside noise has made it extremely difficult for any municipal official to develop a clear and concise feeling for how the people we are responsible for are feeling because the people who are in favor of it are not beating my door down and putting signs in their yard,” Einhorn said.</p><p>The proposal is for Crete, a village 30 miles from downtown Chicago, to contract with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to build and run the detention center. The 788-bed facility would hold U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees awaiting deportation.</p><p>Einhorn and other village officials have talked up the project’s expected jobs and tax benefits as well as an opportunity for Crete to receive per-detainee payments. But the village has yet to negotiate a contract with the company or approve the facility.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/march_2_0.jpg" style="margin: 9px 0px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 228px; height: 293px;" title="Crete President Michael Einhorn talks up the proposal’s expected jobs and the payments the village would receive for each detainee. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)"></div><p>The 40 marchers increased their numbers over the three days. By Sunday afternoon, when they reached a rural Crete parcel proposed for the project, their ranks had swelled to about 250. They ranged from seasoned immigrant advocates to youths donning handkerchief masks, self-described anarchists, Mexican-born mothers pushing strollers and longtime Crete residents fretting about their property values and whether the village would share liability for the facility’s operations.</p><p>Some Crete residents voiced concerns beyond their own interests. Warehouse company owner Thomas Tynan, 63, said the detention center proposal should call attention to a federal policy of deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants a year. “There needs to be a way that people who come to this country and want to work and want to become citizens can do that,” he said.</p><p>Tynan even likened immigrant detention centers to concentration camps during World War II. “If I was living then, what would I do?” he asked. “This is an opportunity for people to show what they would do.”</p><p>The Crete proposal is part of an ICE push to improve conditions in immigrant detention centers. That push follows a series of alleged human rights abuses in ICE facilities, including some run by CCA, the Nashville company.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/march_3.jpg" style="margin: 0px 0px 0px 1px; float: left; width: 341px; height: 310px;" title="On the site of the proposed detention center, Crete resident Dan Taylor says the facility would hurt the village’s finances. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)"></div><p>Illinois state senators last Wednesday approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago) that aims to block the Crete plan. The measure, <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1064&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">Senate Bill 1064</a>, would make Illinois one of the nation’s first states to ban local governments and state agencies from contracting with private companies to build or run civil detention centers. The bill would broaden an Illinois statute banning privately built or operated state prisons and county jails.</p><p>The bill’s supporters acknowledge that Illinois cannot stop the federal government from contracting directly with private entities to build or run a detention center in the state.</p><p>After the measure’s Senate approval, Reps. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero) introduced the House version. Its supporters say they will push for quick passage when the legislature returns from a recess April 17.</p><p>Some House Republicans are vowing to oppose the measure. Neither House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) nor Gov. Pat Quinn has taken a stand on it.</p><p><em><strong>See many more images of the march to Crete and village President Michael Einhorn at photographer <a href="http://charliebillups.photoshelter.com/gallery/Crete-Illinois-detention-center-opposition-march/G0000t9QgeeLrqGA">Charlie Billups</a>’ site.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 02 Apr 2012 07:57:55 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-12/crete-leader-slams-chicago-immigrant-activists-97809 Stalin's brutal deportations affected Chicago-area families http://www.wbez.org/story/stalins-brutal-deportations-affected-chicago-area-families-94697 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-07/RS4637_siberia001-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A chapter of history largely unknown in the U.S. is being featured in an <a href="http://www.balzekasmuseum.org/Pages/hope_and_spirit_exhibition.html">exhibit</a> on Chicago's Southwest Side. The <a href="http://www.balzekasmuseum.org/">Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture</a> tells the story of Lithuanians deported to Siberia. They were among millions of people across the Soviet Union who Stalin forced out of their homes and sent away to perform labor for little or nothing.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/RS4639_siberia003-scr%282%29.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Rimantas Mackevicius survived the Siberian deportations as a child. He lives in Palos Hills now. (Photo by David Pierini)"></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Rimantas Mackevicius' story of surviving the Siberian deportations:</em></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483836-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-december/2011-12-08/lithuanian-survivor-story.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>The exhibit organizer and other Lithuanians want to make sure this information lives on.</p><p>Imagine it’s 1941, and the Soviet Union is trying to make itself into one country. It’s just taken over Lithuania. And the Stalin regime has undertaken mass deportations, forcibly relocating millions all over the Soviet Union.</p><p>Balzekas exhibit curator Audrius Plioplys knows the story all too well. The Soviets deported his grandmother and seven aunts and uncles from Lithuania to Siberia.</p><p>His grandma was 71, and was forced to work preparing food and chopping down trees. His family’s crime? Owning land.</p><p>“Every year, during the wintertime, about one-third of the residents would die from starvation and over-work and where they were it was all permafrost,” Plioplys said. “It was frozen ground, and they couldn’t bury anybody at the time, so they simply stacked the bodies up like logs. They had to wait until the springtime for the thaw before they could do any burials.”</p><p>In all, starting in 1941, more than 130,000 Lithuanians were deported. Historians estimate between 10 to 20 million people died under Stalin’s regime.</p><p>“The historical imbalance that I’ve noticed is the general public knows about Hitler and his atrocities, and they don’t know anything about Stalin,” Plioplys said. “And Stalin’s death machine was working in the same time and the same place as Hitler’s, but producing bigger casualties.”</p><p>That lack of awareness has bothered Plioplys for decades.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/RS4645_siberia009-scr.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="A picture in the exhibit shows a mother burying her child in Siberia. (Photo by David Pierini)"></p><p>“It’s like you have children of Jewish descent growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in the United States, and nobody knows about the Holocaust, and they know about it but nobody else did,” he said. “It’s the same kind of situation.”</p><p>Plioplys started to realize young Lithuanian-Americans didn’t know much about it either. He decided to organize an exhibit at the Balzekas Museum. It’s called <a href="http://www.balzekasmuseum.org/Pages/hope_and_spirit_exhibition.html">Hope &amp; Spirit</a>, in honor of people like his relatives. Seven of the eight made it back home.</p><p>“We wanted to celebrate the human desire to survive,” Plioplys said. “That hope and spirit persisted for decades, and decades later, it manifested itself in independence of the country.”</p><p>The exhibit features letters and photographs from Siberia collected for years by a local priest. Plioplys pointed out two photos of a woman standing in front of a small coffin.</p><p>“This is a sad story,” he said. “It turns out this is her 4-year-old daughter being buried. This is her 16-month-old son being buried the next day…The next day. They had died one day apart.”</p><p>He said the children only survived three months in Siberia.</p><p>Plioplys pointed to another photograph.</p><p>“This is kind of interesting,” he said. “This is a picture of two dogs up in Siberia. They’d clip the hair off the dogs to make socks and gloves. In the wintertime they would be put under the blankets under your feet to keep your feet warm.”</p><p>A man living in Palos Hills who told his story at the Hope &amp; Spirit exhibit knows what that cold feels like. Rimantas Mackevicius’ father was imprisoned in slave labor camps called gulags because he’d fought against the Soviet occupation. The rest of the family was sent to Siberia in a cattle car when Mackevicius was 6 months old.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/RS4640_siberia004-scr.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 286px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Mackevicius and his mother in Siberia. (Photo by David Pierini)"></p><p>“My mom, because she was breastfeeding me, due to stress, her milk dried up,” Mackevicius said through a translator, his daughter-in-law, Asta Svedkauskaite. “She would give me some bread crumbs to chew on.”</p><p>Children could get water at train stations, but sometimes those stops were far apart, said Mackevicius’ son, Tomas. “It was cold, so water would condensate on the walls, so kids would come to the walls and lick the walls to get water.”</p><p>The family arrived in Siberia to find a barren, rocky land. Rimantas Mackevicius’ mother had to work on the railroad.</p><p>He didn’t meet his dad until he was six. He and his mom went to the prison, and he remembered metal doors clanging shut behind them.</p><p>“Finally when I saw my dad, I did not know how he would look or how we would meet, but I remember him squeezing me so tightly and lifting me up,” Mackevicius said. “And I was just wondering as a kid, why does he want to squeeze the life out of me?”</p><p>Mackevicius wouldn’t see his father again for a decade, when the entire family was finally reunited in Lithuania. The family farm had been destroyed. They had to stay with extended family.</p><p>“People who returned from Siberia were marked people of the community,” he said. “They carried a certain stigma. They would take the lowest paid jobs, the jobs that no one wanted to do.”</p><p>Mackevicius came to the U.S. with his family in 1998. He said he wanted to know what freedom was like.</p><p>He wants the world to know about Stalin’s atrocities, and he hopes events like the Hope &amp; Spirit exhibit will increase awareness.</p><p>Still, he was surprised when they asked him to speak. In Lithuania:</p><p>“People who had been deported, they never shared anything publicly, in fear of political instability in the country, and of any possibility of being re-deported again,” Mackevicius said.</p><p>“It also could be that people did not speak about this because it was too painful of a memory – even my closest friends did not know about my past.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/RS4641_siberia005-scr%282%29.jpg" style="width: 425px; height: 292px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Gabija, who is wearing a traditional Lithuanian costume, stands in front of her drawing for the exhibit. (Photo by David Pierini)">For many, that silence holds true in America. And breaking that silence is what the Hope &amp; Spirit exhibit at the Balzekas Museum is all about.</p><p>Vytautas and Gabija Staniskis didn’t learn about Siberia until they created art for the exhibit.</p><p>Gabija ran across the room to see where her drawing was hanging. She’s 6.</p><p>“I drew eight dogs pulling a sled,” Gabija said, describing her drawing. “They’re going to get water and food.”</p><p>Her brother, Vytautas, is 10. &nbsp;His drawing shows a gulag with people behind barbed wire and a train bringing more people in.</p><p>“I thought that it was very sad that Lithuanians had to work and not get to be paid, and it was very cold and some of them died because of cold or starvation,” Vytautas said.</p><p>The museum encouraged children to ask their parents and grandparents about the deportations, and submit art to the exhibit. So Vytautas and Gabija’s grandma told them stories and showed them books. They learned several relatives were sent to Siberia.</p><p>“My grandfather, when he was nine years old, he was almost deported to Siberia,” Vytautas said.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/RS4644_alt_33.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 258px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Vytautas' drawing shows the gulag forced labor camps. (Photo by David Pierini)"> “But a nun warned him he and his family were on the list, and when he saw the Russian truck come, they hid in the field for three days.”</p><p>Their grandmother, Regina Jurate Variakojis said Lithuanians must share this history, so it’s never repeated.</p><p>“I want my grandchildren to be able to tell their children of what has happened and why we are here in the United States and not living in Lithuania, where we were born,” Variakojis said.</p><p>Variakojis hopes the drawings will go in the archives so future generations can learn from them.</p><p>The Hope &amp; Spirit exhibit has been extended into April.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/stalins-brutal-deportations-affected-chicago-area-families-94697 With Mexican economy improving, fewer cross the border http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-21/mexican-economy-improving-fewer-cross-border-92275 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/mexico4.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Last year, under President Obama, deportations of undocumented workers climbed to a record 393,000 – 10 percent more than deportations under President Bush two years earlier. The pace of company audits in the U.S. has also almost quadrupled since President Bush’s final years in office, according to the <em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/25/AR2010072501790.html?hpid=topnews" target="_blank">Washington Post</a></em>.</p><p>While the national debate on immigration is as rancorous as ever, in the past few years, a quiet paradigm shift in Mexican immigration to the United States has been underway. New statistics show that the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico to the U.S. has slowed to a halt.</p><p>Douglas Massey, co-director of Princeton University’s <a href="http://mmp.opr.princeton.edu/" target="_blank">Mexican Migration Project</a>, has spent the past three decades collecting information from emigration hubs in Mexico and sharing this research with U.S. government officials. According to Massey, a new era of U.S.-Mexican migration is upon us. The reasons range from improved education and job opportunities in Mexico to unforgiving border security and unemployment in the U.S.</p><p>He joins us to discuss what these new numbers mean for U.S.-Mexican relations.</p><p><em>For more on this topic, read Douglas Massey’s recent op-ed in </em>The New York Times, <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/opinion/borderline-ridiculous.html?_r=1&amp;ref=immigration" target="_blank">“Borderline Ridiculous.”</a></em></p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-21/mexican-economy-improving-fewer-cross-border-92275 Quinn hits back against immigration checks http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-hits-back-against-immigration-checks-91065 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/deportation protest_flickr_presenteorg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is trying to throw another wrench into a key immigration-enforcement program of President Obama’s administration, saying it ensnares too many people and erodes trust in local police.<br> <br> An <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Quinn_office_to_Morton.pdf">August 18 letter</a> from the governor’s office to John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, hints about a possible legal challenge and asks the federal agency to contact all 26 Illinois counties that have agreed to participate in the program, called Secure Communities, to confirm they still want to take part.<br> <br> “This is the least that ICE can do,” says the letter, signed by John Schomberg, Quinn’s general counsel. “These counties signed up, along with the state, for a Secure Communities that is far different from the program” ICE first presented.</p><p>The Obama administration says the program helps focus immigration enforcement on repeat immigration violators and dangerous criminals, such as murderers and kidnappers.</p><p>ICE reports that Secure Communities has led to the deportation of more than 86,000 convicted criminals. Data from the agency show that about half of those immigrants were convicted of misdemeanors, not felonies.<br> <br> The program has led to the deportation of another 34,000 people not convicted of any crime. Voicing concerns about them, Quinn withdrew Illinois from Secure Communities in May. New York and Massachusetts followed with similar steps.<br> <br> But an August 5 letter from Morton to governors says states no longer have any choice and that Secure Communities will extend to all local law-enforcement jurisdictions in the United States by 2013. An addendum to the letter describes changes in the program. Those include the elimination of a state role in conveying data for the fingerprints.</p><div><hr style="border-width: initial; border-color: initial; "><blockquote><p><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><span style="font-size: 26px; "><em>"These counties signed up, along with the state, for a Secure Communities that is far different from the program"&nbsp;</em></span></span></p></blockquote><p><em>--John Schomberg, Quinn’s general counsel</em></p><hr style="border-width: initial; border-color: initial; "><p>Mark Fleming, an attorney with the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, says ICE could end up in court if Secure Communities lacks the consent of the local jurisdictions. “The governor’s office may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge,” Fleming says.</p></div><p>Fleming points to 1990s rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court affirming that the 10th Amendment bars Congress from compelling state and local governments to administer federal regulations.<br> <br> Asked whether Illinois officials are cooking up a lawsuit, a Quinn spokeswoman refers to Schomberg’s letter, which says the governor’s office “will continue to monitor and evaluate” Secure Communities and “consider all of the state’s options.”<br> <br> ICE representatives did not respond to WBEZ requests for comment on whether Secure Communities violates the 10th Amendment.<br> <br> The Obama administration lately has downplayed agreements through which it first brought state and local governments into the federal initiative. “We wanted to work with the locals and let them know about the program,” says Jon Gurule, an ICE official who helped set up Secure Communities.<br> <br> “But, from the operational side, it’s federal information sharing between two federal agencies,” Gurule adds, referring to ICE and the FBI. “And it’s congressionally mandated.”<br> <br> If ICE checks in with the Illinois counties, as the Illinois letter asks, the federal agency would find some with second thoughts about joining Secure Communities. “If they honor the governor’s request, I would not want to partake in it,” says Patrick Perez, sheriff of west suburban Kane County, part of the program since 2009.<br> <br> “The program has not turned out to be what it was supposed to be,” Perez says, pointing to the deportation of non-criminals. “People in the Hispanic community have become very reticent to contact police if they’re victims of crime because they’re fearful that . . . they will be deported.”<br> <br> The federal initiative also has defenders. “My life has been destroyed by all of this cheap, foreign scab labor,” says a 56-year-old network engineer in Chicago, blaming immigrants for his unemployment and asking that his name not be published because he’s job hunting. “Whether it’s illegal aliens or foreign legal workers, they’re hurting American citizens.”<br> <br> “Secure Communities removes the criminals,” he says, “and that’s a start.”</p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 22:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-hits-back-against-immigration-checks-91065