As President Barack Obama gets sworn in for his second term Monday, immigration activists in Chicago plan a march downtown to protest administration policies that have led to a record number of deportations.
The president has pledged to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority during the next few months, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been meeting toward a possible deal.
But that's not enough for activists in Chicago who want the administration to slow the number of deportations, which reached 410,000 for the year ending last October.
"President Obama cannot talk about human rights if he doesn't stop the deportation of human beings whose families are being torn apart," the Rev. Jose Landaverde, a Little Village pastor, said during a news conference last week outside the downtown offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Monday's march is set to begin at 11 a.m. at the Daley Center and end with a rally at Federal Plaza.
As they call for a moratorium on deportations, organizers plan to highlight a case in which 34 workers at an Elk Grove Village pallet company were arrested by federal immigration agents in November. Those workers are now in proceedings that could lead to deportation.
The arrests sparked a series of small protests in recent weeks, leading to a meeting last week among ICE officials, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Chicago, and immigration activists.
ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said federal agents executing a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation learned that the workers at Chicago Pallet Service Inc. were in the country illegally. She declined to discuss the nature of the initial investigation. Gutierrez said the probe involved money laundering.
Gutierrez and immigration activists met with ICE officials in the hope of persuading them to suspend the arrested workers' cases under what is known as prosecutorial discretion.
Montenegro said ICE officials agreed to consider the request "on a case-by-case basis." She added that the agency is focused on "sensible, effective enforcement" that prioritizes deporting hardened criminals and repeat offenders over less urgent cases.Copyright © 2015, CT Now