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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Raids stoke immigrant ire

    Raids stoke immigrant ire

    Organizers put harder focus on May Day march
    By Antonio Olivo
    Tribune staff reporter

    April 29, 2007

    Flor Crisostomo wants everybody to know she's in this country illegally. So does Maria del Carmen Santana.

    The two immigrants from Mexico share the in-your-face attitude that marks preparations for Tuesday's immigration march in downtown Chicago.

    Federal deportation raids throughout the country have stirred anger among immigrant advocates and families split up by the crackdown.

    Disagreements among organizers once threatened to sap energy from the Chicago march, but a federal raid last week on a fake ID operation in a Little Village shopping plaza changed all that.

    The show of force, including questioning of dozens of shoppers and workers, has unified immigrant advocates and electrified rally planning—again putting Chicago at the center of the immigration debate.

    That has given this week's march a decidedly harder tone than the sometimes festival-like demonstrations that filled the Loop last spring.

    In place of flags and generic messages of pride, signs this year feature photos of deportees caught up in the raids. Members of families who were affected by the raids will speak during two separate rallies.

    Organizers are working with Chicago police to keep the march peaceful. At the same time, they're encouraging immigrants from throughout the region to come with two demands: that raids cease while Congress considers immigration reforms and that reforms make it possible for the country's 12 million undocumented immigrants to gain legal status.

    'We're not delinquents'
    "Our community is very angry, very, very angry," said Crisostomo, 28, who was among 26 illegal immigrant workers in Chicago caught last year in a nationwide raid of the IFCO Systems pallet company.

    "We're not delinquents," added del Carmen, 46, who was arrested with 16 others during a February raid at Cano Packaging in Arlington Heights.

    Driven by emotion, the women can speak more freely now: With their cases pending, there is no benefit to hiding and no danger of deportation until the process is complete.

    Crisostomo is helping to organize Tuesday's march, making signs and joining in a hunger strike. She decided to speak publicly, she said, "so the greater community can understand we're not here to live on welfare or to not pay taxes. We're part of a bigger problem that needs to be fixed."

    Keeping that reminder in the public eye is one of the goals of May Day actions taking place in cities around the U.S. on Tuesday.

    Already, a shortage of buses in Aurora has marchers planning to meet at the Metra station. Businesses in Cicero and Little Village plan to close for the day.

    Participants from around the area are expected to gather after noon, joining feeder marches from Pilsen and Humboldt Park that will meet at Union Park on the Near West Side.

    Marchers—from Muslims angry about FBI interrogations, to teens ditching school, to illegal immigrants recently fired from a West Chicago plastic cup factory—will head along Washington Boulevard to Daley Plaza, where the rally is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

    Although organizers are working hard to highlight the diversity of the march, much of the momentum is coming from groups dominated by Mexican immigrants: hometown associations, unions, churches and the Spanish-language media. Planners also have been working a sophisticated phone network that grew out of last year's marches.

    Some fear march backlash
    Those marches surprised Chicago and the nation, drawing several hundred thousand demonstrators whose shouts echoed through the Loop and changed the tenor of the debate.

    This year's crowd isn't expected to be as large. Some local immigrant groups plan to rally in Washington on Tuesday. Fear of a backlash may keep others away.

    Still, outrage over the Little Village fake ID bust has become a national rallying call, organizers from other cities said.

    "When you see how they raided the place and how the children were scared, that just motivates you and makes you more angry about the injustices being committed in our community," said William Torres, who is helping to coordinate a march in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

    At the same time, groups seeking tougher enforcement against illegal immigration cheered the action, arguing the country has tolerated identity theft and other crimes driven by a porous border for too long.

    "I would hope that Congress is not listening to these people," said Dave Gorak, director of the Wisconsin-based Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration. But, he added, "If I had my way, I'd have them marching 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to remind the American people what they're dealing with here."

    That's also the goal of marchers Crisostomo and del Carmen, who say they came to Chicago out of necessity.

    'My future was in Mexico'
    Crisostomo said she left Guerrero, one of Mexico's poorest states, after a family food stand failed and there was no longer money for milk or clothes.

    "I didn't come for the American dream," she said. "I never imagined in my life I would come to the United States. My future was in Mexico."

    Crisostomo sneaked across the Arizona border and was turned back twice by authorities before making it into the Sonora desert. There, a group of 30 faced searing heat; a tornado threw some of them hundreds of feet, and others injured themselves holding onto cactuses.

    Arriving to Chicago in 2001 with a fake ID, Crisostomo found work loading pallets at IFCO systems for $5.50 per hour, working six days a week. She sent most of her money to her children back home until last year's federal raid, she said.

    Del Carmen, an aspiring dentist, arrived from Mexico City on a tourist visa in 2001. Along with her son and daughter, she left to join her husband in Palatine after she was robbed twice, once at gunpoint and once at knifepoint, del Carmen said.

    "I thought: If these things are happening, it's better that we leave," del Carmen said.

    Taking English and computer classes at night, del Carmen landed an assembly line job at Cano Packaging. Her visa expired as she sealed boxes of chocolates at $5.50 per hour.

    Agents raided the Arlington Heights factory Feb. 27, her daughter Cynthia's 13th birthday, del Carmen said. She's prepared for the likelihood that she'll have to return to Mexico.

    "Probably, I'll take my daughter," she said. "We're hoping the government reaches some kind of decision on immigration reform that will allow us to stay."

    Long wait likely for reform
    With federal legislators at odds over how best to implement immigration reforms, the chances of legislation being passed this year are diminishing, advocates say.

    For that reason, some groups in Chicago have chosen to focus less on marching and more on lobbying, which could affect Tuesday's turnout.

    "We think there are a lot of bridges to building power," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a key player last summer that has refocused on lobbying and citizenship drives.

    As organizers work out last-minute details, they're also trying to put aside early differences that threatened to derail their effort. With scores of community groups and unions pushing reforms and many different proposals on the table, some found themselves on opposite sides of a given bill. At one point, one faction began planning a separate May 1 march.

    Eventually, organizers agreed to rally around stopping the federal raids and providing legal status to undocumented immigrants, organizer Jose Artemio Arreola said.

    "I think the community will come out very strongly," Crisostomo said. "It's our dignity that's in play." ... i-news-hed
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    Senior Member AngryTX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    "so the greater community can understand we're not here to live on welfare or to not pay taxes. We're part of a bigger problem that needs to be fixed."
    She IS part of the problem of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION!! The way to fix that is to get them out of the country, and build a wall!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member fedupinwaukegan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Waukegan, IL
    Oh my gosh I don't even know what to say...

    What can you say against such arrogance and feelings of entitlement...

    What will life be like here in Illinois on Tuesday. We shall see. The marches haven't even happened and already I'm angry. If the marches last year brought me to this cause then surely many new members will join.

    I intend to call Patrick Fitzgerald and tell him his office did the right thing. I'm still looking for an email. I hope this is the right gentleman.

    Patrick J. Fitzgerald
    Firm: US Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

    Address: 5th Floor
    219 Dearborn St
    Chicago, IL 60604-1702
    Map & Directions

    Phone: (312) 353-5300

    Fax: (312) 353-2067
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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