CHICAGO — On a day when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers are expected to execute raids against 2,000 undocumented immigrants across the country, leaders on the local level in Chicago are working with migrant communities and against President Trump's calls for a crackdown.
Word that the raids would take place in Chicago and other cities across the country leaked early last week, and the president confirmed the news Friday. Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday morning that the raids are not about targeting those whose only crime is crossing the border illegally.
"When we talk about prioritization for removal we're not utilizing that, we're using other crimes that you would normally think of," Cuccinelli said.
As of Sunday afternoon no large-scale actions have been reported.
Cuccinelli says ICE is just doing its job, but the agency will get no help from officials here in Chicago. Some of the top political players at all levels of government came to St. Agnes of Bohemia in Little Village Sunday, where they spoke against the raids and promised to work against the effort.
"We can make America safe and secure and still keep it just, we can bring peace to our streets without tearing families apart, we don’t need to put any children in cages anywhere," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said.
After mass congregants and local leaders walked the streets of Little Village, also known as the "Mexican capital of the Midwest," to show their unity with Chicago’s immigrant community.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has cut ICE's access to police databases, and promised additional support to undocumented residents.
"We will not do anything to help facilitate the heartless work of ICE, who has been weaponized by this president," Lightfoot said Sunday. "We will continue to provide resources so immigrants who are in need get the legal representation and resources that they need."
"Bike brigades" reach out to immigrant communities
Community groups fanned out across Chicago to help immigrants know their rights if ICE officers do show up.
The streets were unusually quiet in the Pilsen neighborhood, which has a large immigrant community. Volunteers gathered there to form a "bike brigade" Sunday, whose main focus was educating residents and migrants who might be the target of ICE raids.
This includes 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sicho-Lopez, who says many people in the neighborhood — which is 60 percent Latino — have stopped going to work and carrying out their normal lives for fear of the raids.
“Over the weekend, people are calling our office, reporting unusual activity. There’s certainly a lot of fear," Sicho-Lopez said.
He and two other alderman are supporting the bike brigades, which rolled through communities at risk of being targeted by raids.
“We’re here to make sure we encourage people knowing the rights. Once people know their rights, they know they do not have to disclose their citizenship. That’s not a requirement. They know that they have the right to remain silent," Sicho-Lopez said.
Volunteers gathering at the Pilsen Alliance Sunday were given a list of rights to stress and documents showing what a real immigration warrant looks like.
"We are very clear that nobody should be targeted without a warrant, without a reason. We obviously see this I apolitical stunt by a desperate president," Sicho-Lopez said.
Angela Tovar brought her three-year-old daughter Camila along for the ride.
“I think that there is a lot of fear mongering that’s taking place on a national level. I think it’s meant to put people in a place of fear.," Tovar said.
Attorney Jerry Boyle said he didn't want to see his, "neighbors taken away."
"It’s that simple. I’ve lived here for a long time and these are my friends," Boyle said.
"We are not going to stand for having children in cages. We are going to fight to protect our families," Pilsen Alliance President Rosa Esquivel said.
Alderman Sicho-Lopez is hoping once these residents become more informed about their rights, the economy will start to bounce back in these predominantly migrant areas.