Rally outside of the Torres Family on Tuesday. Photo: Chicago Sun-Times.
The administration of President Donald Trump has begun in earnest the persecution and arrest of immigrants across the nation.
On Monday a federal agent shot and injured a Latino man in the city’s Belmont-Cragin neighborhood during a morning raid.
Felix Torres, 53, was shot in an arm and was transported to Stroger County Hospital where he was listed in serious condition.
Agents of the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Chicago Police they went to the Northwest Side location to arrest Torres’s son who is 23-years-old. Federal agents told Chicago Police that Torres pulled out a gun.
Family members, however, refuted the story told by the federal agents and a daughter of the injured man said her father does not own a gun.
Furthermore, a lawyer for Torres told the media that both Torres and his son are legal residents in this country. The son was arrested but was released hours later.
The incident sent shock waves across the city’s large immigrant community and leaders said it is one more reason not to have the Chicago Police Department cooperates with ICE in conducting similar raids.
“ICE’s guns blazing raid on a Northwest Side home filled with sleeping kids is exactly why the city of Chicago should refuse to collaborate with ICE,” Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa told the press.
ICE agents in the city also attend regular court hearings to detain undocumented immigrants who may have cases going through the courts. Local politicians want to put a stop to this practice.
Meanwhile video evidence from across the country has shown how ICE agents are intercepting and arresting undocumented immigrants on their way to work or on their way to take their children to school. Some of these detentions are taking place at the break of day.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent an ultimatum to the country’s estimated 34 cities and counties who have declared themselves sanctuary cities or counties.
Sessions said that the Department of Justice will “claw” back millions of dollars in federal funds if sanctuary cities or counties do not cooperate with ICE agents.
“I strongly encourage our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws and to rethink these policies,” said Sessions.
Illinois, for example, stands to lose seventy grants totaling $120 million dollars which would go to cities such as Chicago and Evanston, both sanctuary cities.
But so far sanctuary cities across the nation have refused to blink and have stood their ground against immigration tactics they say do more harm than good.
The Trump administration, nevertheless, is continuing to persecute undocumented immigrants as criminals even as evidence is presented that immigrants are not more crime prone than others and even, in most cases, they commit far less crimes than people who are born in this country.
The Trump White House recently published the first list of immigrants who have committed crimes under its new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office.
Critics of this new office have said the list is being used as a way to shame sanctuary cities into toeing the new administration’s line on immigration enforcement.
Defenders of the rights of immigrants have compared this new office to the same tactics Adolph Hitler used against the Jews in Germany. Hitler also singled out Jews by regularly publishing lists of supposed crimes committed by them.
Newspapers used by the Hitler regime also printed lies such as “Jews are criminals by disposition” and that “The Jews are not a nation like other nations but bearers of hereditary criminality” in order to dehumanize them and attack them.
Trump, too, is now demonizing immigrants in order to fan the flames of racial hatred so that American citizens are led to believe all immigrants are undesirables. During the campaign Trump presented relatives of victims of crimes committed by immigrants in order to gain votes.
Nowhere, however, are lists of immigrants killed by U.S. citizens, including the Border Patrol.
Along the same track, Trump is continuing with his pet project, one that won him choir calls, during the campaign. The administration is now accepting bids in order to build the Great Wall along the Mexican border.
Some of the specifications are that it be at least 30 feet tall, made durable so that it can withstand at least an hour of pounding by someone trying to damage the wall with a hammer and that it be “aesthetically pleasing”.
The odd thing about the campaign of terror against family-oriented immigrants is that it is being carried out at the precise time that several of Trump’s closest advisers and campaign hangers-on are being investigated for possible collusion with the Russians in the hacking of the Democratic Party and the release of thousands of emails.
So far national security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation on whether there was a Trump-Russia effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
Preparing to present testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee are Roger Stone, a Republican operative; Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign: and Jared Kushner, adviser to President Trump.
The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to know what was discussed when the three met separately with Russian operatives.
At the same time a Trump effort to divert attention from this scandal and smear former President Barack Obama failed.
Trump falsely accused President Obama of having wire tapped his phones at the New York Trump Tower.
Back in the immigrant communities across the country there is a lot of talk of “protecting the immigrants” but so far nothing substantial has come out.
At the moment immigrants have a lot of potential allies outside of their communities as other segments of the population are being attacked also by the new Republican administration.
All left of center organizations across the nation should consider a ten point agenda that encompasses all their chief concerns and fight together as one.
I offer a sample agenda:
1. Amnesty for all immigrants. 2. No border wall; 3. Protect sanctuary cities; 4. Protect environmental gains; 5. Protect Women’s rights; 6. Stand with LGBTQ community; 7. Save Public Education; 8. Keep African American communities safe. 9. Revert decision on Dakota Access Pipeline. 10. Protect Civil Liberties for all.
This country has gone through several periods of hysteria against the foreign born in the past.
During World War II the Japanese community suffered persecution and thousands were rounded up, forced to sell their homes and placed in internment camps all along the American southwest.
Later, during the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy, of Wisconsin, whipped up anti-communist hysteria and forced people to turn in suspected communists. Many people were forced to testify before the House Un-American Committee (HUAC).
Since actors and playwrights deal with ideas and images, McCarthy targeted Hollywood and destroyed countless careers as actors and playwrights were blacklisted and denied work.
Ten Hollywood actors and writers who refused to testify before the HUAC in Congress were charged with contempt of court and had to spend a year in jail. They were known as the Hollywood Ten.
As with the past, the foreign born and the media are today’s favorite targets of the Donald Trump administration and surely this trend presents a danger to the civil liberties of all Americans.
Antonio Zavala is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago and writes about the people and neighborhoods of Chicago.