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Halt Deportations, Says Council Committee

By Ted Cox | March 11, 2014 3:00pm
 Ald. George Cardenas called on President Obama to suspend deportations resulting from an "unjust law" on immigration.
Ald. George Cardenas called on President Obama to suspend deportations resulting from an "unjust law" on immigration.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — A resolution calling on President Barack Obama to suspend deportations of illegal immigrants with no criminal history cleared committee and headed for the full City Council Tuesday.

"Today we are here to try to put a halt to certain deportations," said Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the Human Relations Committee, which approved the resolution without opposition. He called the current situation "ridiculous."

Ald. George Cardenas (12th), lead sponsor of the resolution, said the effort was specifically aimed at families of longtime undocumented aliens who had children in the United States. Those families, he added, are frequently divided when the parents are arrested for whatever reason and deported.

"Thousands of children are ending up in foster care," Cardenas said. "These are U.S. citizens."

Saying his resolution is intended to "shed light on that part of the debate," Cardenas added, "What kind of system does this and for what particular reason?"

Activist Jorge Mujica testified that about 2 million people had been deported by the Obama administration, at an annual average of 400,000 since 2009. He said it was "part of the political push and pull," as the administration attempts to take a hard line to appease Republicans and win a compromise on immigration reform.

"It hasn't worked," Mujica said, calling it "a failed policy."

"Congress is not going to approve immigration reform this year," Mujica added, saying a moratorium was needed to "give some relief to some people who should not be deported."

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) said he felt "betrayed" by the president after Latinos helped elect Obama twice. According to Maldonado, Obama deported more people than the previous two presidents combined. Maldonado called on Obama to "simply act with something he can do with the power of his pen."

Juana Armenta testified in tears that her husband had been arrested and faced deportation. "I want my husband to come back," she said. "We never did anything wrong. We just wanted to go to work."

The resolution specifically calls on the Obama administration to "suspend any further deportations of unauthorized individuals with no criminal history," but also to extend certain protections under a government immigration program to "spouses, children and parents."

Calling the present policy "just inhumane," Cardenas said the resolution is "the least we can do."

"I hope that the president once and for all gets our message," Maldonado added.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement in support of the resolution and comparing it to the Welcoming City Ordinance passed in 2012, which he said prevented "law-abiding Chicagoans from being unfairly detained and deported."

"Our country’s immigration system is broken, and ultimately it is up to Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned pathway to citizenship," Emanuel added. "The resolution introduced by Ald. Cardenas further strengthens the city’s position."

The resolution heads for full City Council approval next month.