Immigration activists held a rally calling for "#Not1More detainee and to #EndAllDetention" in front of Chicago's Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) Field Office on Congress Parkway in the Loop July 8.
The rally was one of many events that took place across the country in conjunction with the National Week of Action to End Detention: July 7-11. About 200 people representing the #Not1More Campaign, Organized Communities Against Deportations ( OCAD ), the Translatina Coalition- Chicago chapter, the Detention Watch Network, We Belong Together, Families for Freedom, Undocumented Students & Allies and other organizations as well as Chicago Teachers Union members attended the rally.
"The organizers of Chicago's rally included members of the LGBTQ community, some of whom were recent recipients of this paper's 30 Under 30 awards," said Tania Unzueta, national organizer for the #Not1More Campaign. "The release of trans detainees is central to the demands of the #Not1More and National Week of Action to End Detention campaigns."
Activists shouted lines such as "Stop detention, stop the lies. We are fighting for our lives," "GEO, CCA. How many lives did you take today?," "Hey ICE, step off it. Our people aren't for profit," and "One, two, three, four. Stop deporting. Not1More. Five, six, seven, eight. No more jails. Liberate
Among those who spoke were local OCAD organizers Rosi Carrasco and Irene Romulo and undocumented immigrants and former detainees Genoveva Ramirez, Felipe Diosdado, Anibal Fuentes and Arnulfo Mercado.
Carrasco ( speaking in Spanish ) and Romulo ( speaking in English ) noted that every day there are approximately 34,000 undocumented people in detention centers across the country including facilities throughout Illinois and the surrounding states.
"Even in the best conditions these detention centers are inhumane and unjust," said Carrasco and Romulo. "People who are detained there experience isolation, depression and trauma."
Ramirez said via a translator that she was detained for two weeks, during which ICE deprived her of her blood-pressure medicine. She claimed that ICE makes detainees pay for everything while in custody and there is no privacy at all. Ramirez explained that families on the outside are also adversely affected, including her grandson, who spent the two weeks wondering if he would see her again.
Diosdado, who spent 30 days in custody, claimed details such as ICE giving detainees used uniforms to wear and charging them $20 to make a 15-minute call. He added that detainees in the facility he was sent to were kept inside 24 hours a day.
Fuentes said via a translator that he was arrested in front of his house and detained for about a week. He explained that, while in custody, he talked to other detainees who had been there for more than a year. That worried him because he thought he would be in custody for that long or be deported to his home country, Guatemala.
Mercado said via a translator that he was bound by his hands and feet when he was taken into custody. He also noted that everything in the detention facility where he was held was old and used.
Both Carrasco and Romulo called for all ICE detention centers to be closed, following all the speakers' remarks.
Homeland Security and Chicago Police Officers stood guard in front of the ICE building during the entirety of the rally. Conversely, a number people in vehicles blew their horns in support of the rally.
Attendees held signs with statistics concerning the number and types of people who are currently in ICE detention facilities across the country as well as other information about ICE policies regarding detainees.
See www.notonemoredeportation.com/end-detention-week-of-action for more information .
Photos by Paul Hirsch