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That Rumor About ICE Raids And CTA 'Checkpoints'? Not True

By  Patty Wetli Mina Bloom and Heather Cherone | February 15, 2017 2:43pm | Updated on February 17, 2017 11:48am

 CTA issued a statement debunking the rumor of ID checkpoints, which has spread on social media.
CTA issued a statement debunking the rumor of ID checkpoints, which has spread on social media.
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Courtesy CTA

LINCOLN SQUARE — The rumor of the CTA setting up ID checkpoints is false, according to city and federal agencies.

Word has been spreading since Tuesday on social media, particularly Facebook, that Chicago was being targeted for mass immigration raids and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement checkpoints had been set up on the CTA Red Line where agents were "checking IDs and openly profiling."

"We want to be very clear that there have been NO incidences of ID checkpoints for purposes of verifying immigration status anywhere on CTA" — by customs enforcement or any other agency, CTA said.

CTA does conduct periodic, random bag checks — a program that's been in place since 2014 — which is likely the source of the rumor, the agency said.

"These bag checks are not new, nor do they include ID checks of any kind," the agency clarified.

The Chicago Police Department is not one of the 38 law enforcement agencies that partners with ICE on immigration enforcement.

According to the Police Department, the routine checks were conducted by the Mobile Explosive Screening Team in conjunction with the CTA and Homeland Security.

"These occur multiple times a week at random locations throughout the city," the Police Department said in a prepared statement.

Gail Montenegro, a spokeswoman for customs enforcement, called the reports "false, dangerous and irresponsible," adding that the agency "does not conduct sweeps, checkpoints or raids that target aliens indiscriminately."

"These reports create panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Any groups falsely reporting such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support," Montenegro said in a prepared statement.

A North Park resident shared a response received from Albany Park Police District Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris, who said: "We do not stop anyone and ask whether they are citizens or not; in fact we are not allowed to do so under the municipal code."

The commander continued, "We do not work with ICE unless it involves an illegal who committed a murder or rape, or forcible felony, but in those cases it is usually ICE showing up in court.

"I can honestly tell you in my 32 years on the job, I was not called once by ICE for any assistance or for any matter," Voulgaris said.

The rumors came in the wake of a national sweep by federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security that nabbed nearly 700 undocumented immigrants across the country, including 48 from Chicago. Officials said the arrests, mostly of people with criminal records, was routine.