Some Illinois members of Congress are calling for a review of how immigration authorities detained an undocumented Mexican man in Northwest suburban Chicago. WBEZ reported early this year about the arrest and deportation of Reynold Garcia and his family, who were living in Palatine. Garcia’s removal by immigration and customs enforcement agents, which happened just a few yards from the church where he was worshiping that morning, rattled his religious community.
In a letter sent April 22 to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth, Representatives Tammy Duckworth, Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez describe the particulars of Garcia’s arrest, which happened on January 3. They claim that ICE agents “lured” Garcia out of the church where he had been worshiping by falsely communicating to Garcia that his friend had been in a car accident.
“We are concerned that such deceptive tactics, particularly posing as local law enforcement personnel while fabricating a story indicating potential harm to a family member, may have violated ICE procedure if such deception was carried out by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) without the knowledge or approval of local law enforcement authorities,” they wrote.
Palatine Police Commander William Nord of the Palatine Police Department, which the lawmakers believe ICE agents claimed to represent, told WBEZ that his department was not involved in Garcia’s removal.
“I do not have any record of anything,” he said.
“While the use of deception may be legal, I think there are questions of right and wrong, of justice, of ethics, that the American people — I think — would think that this was not the right thing to do,” Schakowsky said.
In addition to her concern that ICE agents may have impersonated local law enforcement without that department’s consent, Schakowsky said that drawing Garcia out of a religious sanctuary to arrest him was “just wrong.”
“This kind of use of law enforcement resources, it seems to me, is just a waste,” she added, “and underscores how desperately we need comprehensive immigration reform.”
Mony Ruiz-Velasco, an attorney representing Garcia and his family, said she is exploring options to re-open their asylum cases in the United States. She said the family is back in Mexico now, but fears for their safety. According to Ruiz-Velasco, the family of Garcia’s wife, Karen Margarito-Pineda, owns businesses, and has suffered threats and violence for not paying “protection” fees.
Meanwhile, Ruiz-Velasco said there should be clarity on what is permissible and what is not when ICE agents conduct immigration enforcement actions.
“If this would have happened in a different context, for example in the criminal law context, it would have been illegal for them to do that,” she said. “They really entrap them in putting him in a situation where it was through deception that they arrested him.”
A spokesperson for the Office of the Inspector General at DHS said they are reviewing the request made by lawmakers to review Garcia’s case. When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the Chicago ICE office re-sent a statement to WBEZ that it had shared earlier this year: “As a matter of ICE policy, in order to preserve officer safety, we cannot discuss details of law enforcement actions, including the tactics our officers employ.”