48 arrested in Chicago area in last week's immigration raids

Marwa Eltagouri Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune

Federal authorities arrested 48 unauthorized immigrants across the Chicago area last week in a series of immigration enforcement raids, officials said.
Of those arrested, 45 were convicted criminals and 20 were previously deported, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said.

Chicago's enforcement office made 235 arrests across six states — Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri — during an operation that began Feb. 4 and concluded Friday, spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said.

While ICE officials said the raids were routine, the timing of the operation less than one month into President Donald Trump's administration has intensified fear and anxiety in immigrant communities, even among families with legal status. In neighborhoods where immigrants are still shaken by Trump's immigration order last month banning travel into the U.S. from seven largely Muslim countries, news of the raids and rumored inquiries by federal agents have led to a climate of helplessness.

In Chicago, 15 people were arrested, including an Iraqi citizen with a previous conviction of criminal sexual abuse of a victim unable to consent. A Mexican citizen with previous convictions of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, attempted criminal sexual abuse and solicitation for sex was also arrested in the Chicago area, officials said.

Others arrested included six people in Bensenville, five in Aurora, four in Cicero, two in Addison, and one each in Arlington Heights, Bolingbrook, Carpentersville, Elgin, Markham, Melrose Park, Mundelein, Plainfield, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Skokie, Waukegan, Wheaton, Wheeling, Wood Dale and Hammond, Ind., an ICE official said.

On Devon Avenue in Chicago, news of immigration raids intensifies fears

Thirty-three of those immigrants are from Mexico, and seven are from Guatemala. One immigrant each is from Canada, Chad, China, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Iraq, the Philippines and Poland, an ICE official said.

Those arrested had been convicted on charges such as prostitution, DUI, cocaine possession, burglary, criminal sexual assault, assault, and aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, an ICE official said.

On Jan. 25, Trump issued an executive order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country without legal status. Trump's order expanded the list of deportation priorities to include any noncitizen who is charged with a criminal offense of any kind or who is suspected of committing criminal acts, fraud or willful dishonesty while interacting with immigration officials, is the subject of a pending order of removal or has previously been deported and re-entered the country.

The order gave much broader leeway to ICE officers in deciding whether someone posed a "risk to public safety" and therefore could be detained.

Federal agents conduct sweeping immigration enforcement raids in at least 6 states

Under the Obama administration, the government focused on targeting immigrants living in the country illegally who posed a threat to national security or public safety, as well as recent border crosses. Still, despite the narrower focus, more than 2 million people were deported during Obama's eight years in office.

During an operation that occurred over a five-week period last year under the Obama administration, 331 unauthorized immigrants were arrested in the Midwest, including 107 in Illinois. The majority of people were arrested in Chicago, Cicero and Waukegan, according to an ICE news report from June 2016.