CITY HALL — Latino politicians and community leaders denounced last weekend's immigration raid on a Back of the Yards flea market Wednesday.
"It's almost like we're in a police state," said Ald. Danny Solis (25th), head of the City Council's Latino Caucus. "This was not only ridiculous, it was stupid, and it really is counterproductive."
Solis led calls saying it set back efforts to get the immigrant community, legal and illegal, to trust police and aid in maintaining the social order.
"People need to communicate with police," Solis said. "When you show this kind of force for the kind of criminal activity we're talking about, selling $5 CDs ... people are going to be intimidated by that."
According to Ald. George Cardenas (12th), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers along with those from the Department of Homeland Security burst into the Swap-O-Rama, 4100 S. Ashland Ave., Saturday evening. "Overwhelming force was used to apprehend a few individuals," he said, and they were accused of selling pirated compact discs and videos, but also subjected to possible deportation.
"To target people peddling CDs, $5 CDs, while other serious crimes are occurring in the city, and the level of violence that we have, I think is a serious imbalance," Cardenas said.
Lawrence Bonito, chief executive officer of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, decried the "heavy-handed tactics" of the raid, asking, "Why was ICE, Homeland Security involved in the first place?" According to ICIRR, about 20 people were arrested.
"It is creating a lot of confusion and chaos in our communities," added Eric Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago. "The community will continue to fight back. We will continue to denounce every single raid that happens no matter where it happens at."
"We think that this went overboard," said Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Chicago). He urged all police to "be respectful of the community."