Friday, June 20, 2008

The buses start rolling in…

As expected, about 2 AM, buses and vans of detainees began to role into the facility. Regulars to these vigils say that dozens of vehicles a night will drop of detainees at the facility on a typically Friday. That’s potentially hundreds of immigrants in one night. I must admit that the scale of the problem has really hit me for the first time. Hundreds of undocumented immigrants are torn away from their families and deported to countries, some may have not seen since early childhood. I think everyone here tonight is sharing my feelings of anger and depression at this pointless injustice. Do those who have pursued this policy really believe they are making our communities any safer by taking factory workers, landscapers, day laborers away from their families?

The small van you will see in the pictures below apparently makes the rounds regularly in the La Villita neighborhood, visiting local lock ups in its nightly search for undocumented immigrants to deport. The personal that staff this van are apparently not actually ICE or DHS employees, but independent contractors who are paid to round up immigrants in Chicago’s Mexican community. Some of the regulars of these vigils explain that some of the vans that prowl the streets of Pilsen and La Villita have bumper stickers of Mexican radio stations plastered on their back bumpers in an effort to make them appear part of the community. Attendees at tonight's rally have witnessed ICE agents standing at the front of Pilsen area grocery stores recently, visually scanning the customers in a heavy handed form of intimidation – an effort to make the undocumented feel unsafe, even in their own neighborhoods - an attempt to put an entire community on notice.

The Broadview facility is mainly a processing center. Most of those brought here have already spent weeks or months at another detention facility. Most will be taken to O’Hare airport shortly after arrival at Broadview, for deportation.

So far a bus from McHerny has contained the largest number of detainees. A school bus turned into a prison vehicle, it looked as if its 75-80 seat capacity was in full use. Watching uniformed members of a police agency entitled “Homeland Security” fill buses with immigrant workers, to shuttle them off to detention facilities far from their families and communities, it is hard to not make analogies to the worst police states of the past.

I am told the buses will continue to roll in until around 6:00 AM.

You can see more pictures here…

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