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Immigration Agents Accused of Racial Profiling

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Immigration Agents Accused of Racial Profiling

Rev. José Landaverde says ICE agents searched innocent bystanders. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)

Fifteen alleged members of a fake ID ring in Chicago appeared in court Friday on federal conspiracy charges. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement hailed its operation in the city’s Little Village neighborhood for putting the suspects behind bars. But some residents of the neighborhood say the agents engaged in racial profiling. We report from our West Side bureau.

Rev. José Landaverde is pastor of an Anglican mission in Little Village called Our Lady of Guadalupe. As raids on five neighborhood locations got underway Thursday, Landaverde says he was visiting his alderman’s office to pick up a block-party permit.

LANDAVERDE: When I walked outside the office, three officers of Immigration approached me and put me on top of my car, and then searched me. And they said, ‘I want to see your documents, mica.’ And then I said, ‘I don’t have any mica, but I have my United States passport because I’m a United States citizen.’ When he saw the passport, he gave it back to me right away and he said, ‘Go away.’

But Landaverde didn’t go far. He says he walked a block to the neighborhood’s main drag, 26th Street.

LANDAVERDE: They were stopping everyone who was walking on the sidewalk and saying, ‘Lay down on the floor, searching you, give me your documentation.’ If you didn’t have it, they were taking you.

Landaverde says the agents never would have treated white people this way.

But a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement says there were no random stops. The statement says the operation only sought people named in arrest warrants and, for each one, agents used information sheets with photographs.

A 65-year-old permanent U.S. resident who doesn’t want us to broadcast her name says she’s had to weather many raids.

RETIREE: Yo tengo aquí 35 años en La Villita...

After 35 years in Little Village, she offers some simple advice for neighbors when immigration agents are around.

RETIREE: No salgan.

Don’t go outdoors.

I’m Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.

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