E.C. crowd protests de­por­ta­tions

Pro­test­ers rally against use of Gary air­port for ICE de­por­ta­tions

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Ca­role Carl­son

A small but en­thu­si­as­tic crowd gath­ered out­side City Hall in East Chicago on Sat­ur­day to rail against de­por­ta­tions tak­ing place at the Gary/Chicago In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Past protests have been held at the air­port, but this time im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates wanted to es­tab­lish a pres­ence in a com­mu­nity with a high His­panic pop­u­la­tion, said Lisa Valle, of North­west In­di­ana Re­sist, which or­ga­nized the rally.

Sat­ur­day’s protest took place as four uni­formed po­lice of­fi­cers looked on in the back­ground. Valle said she wor­ried their pres­ence might have kept un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants from at­tend­ing the rally.

The Gary air­port has been used to aid in de­por­ta­tions by the Im­mi­gra­tion Cus­toms En­force­ment agency since 2013. Typ­i­cally, un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants have been brought from a Chicagoarea de­ten­tion cen­ter af­ter a judge has or­dered their de­por­ta­tion, and they are usu­ally flown out of the Gary air­port to Texas.

On Sat­ur­day, sev­eral speak­ers spoke of the im­pact of de­por­ta­tions on fam­i­lies.

“The de­por­ta­tions and fam­ily sep­a­ra­tions are cruel and in­hu­mane,” said rally co-or­ga­nizer Ruth Needle­man, who al­ter­nated be­tween English and Span­ish as she de­liv­ered her speech.

She called fam­ily sep­a­ra­tions a tool of “white sup­pres­sion” and geno­cide.

In the spring, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan a “zero tol­er­ance” im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy that left more than 2,300 fam­i­lies of un-

doc­u­mented im­mi­grants sep­a­rated. Trump has since halted the pol­icy and a fed­eral judge or­dered the govern­ment to re­unite chil­dren with their par­ents.

“The govern­ment has used fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion to kill re­sis­tance; that is the end ob­jec­tive,” said Needle­man, who said peo­ple are led in shack­les onto a plane on Fri­days at the Gary air­port.

Ear­lier this month, a group of Chicago politi­cians called for Chicago to yank its fund­ing from the air­port be­cause they say it en­ables de­por­ta­tions.

Gary Mayor Karen Free­manWil­son has said the air­port re­ceives about $2 mil­lion an­nu­ally from the fed­eral govern­ment for cap­i­tal im­prove­ments and $500,000 each year for op­er­a­tions, per a 1995 com­pact.

ICE main­tains a con­tract with a pri­vate op­er­a­tor at the air­port for the de­por­ta­tion flights.

While sev­eral speak­ers ad­dressed the au­di­ence, Valle moved through the crowd col­lect­ing money she said would go to­ward the pur­chase of a bill­board on In­ter­state 80/94 to protest the air­port de­por­ta­tions.

She said about $1,000 more was needed.

Lor­rell Kil­patrick, of Black Lives Mat­ter-North­west In­di­ana, called Sat­ur­day’s East Chicago lo­ca­tion an ideal choice.

“This will con­tinue to be a hunt­ing ground for de­por­ta­tions,” she said.

“Our lives mat­ter. They have to; with­out our lives this sys­tem wouldn’t work.”

Jose Bus­tos, of East Chicago, said his fam­ily in Mex­ico is pro­vid­ing food and wa­ter for a car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans try­ing to make their way to the U.S. for asylum.

“A cor­rupt govern­ment has pushed them out, but Pres­i­dent Trump uses sound bites to in­still fear to his base,” Bus­tos said.

Bus­tos, who for­merly man­aged the Im­mi­gra­tion Sup­port and As­sis­tance Cen­ter in East Chicago, said he plans to open a new agency in early Novem­ber to aid im­mi­grants in the city’s Sal­va­tion Army, 513 W. Chicago Ave.

“I’m go­ing to call it ‘Esper­anza,’ which means hope,” he said. “Peo­ple are afraid right now. They’re in the shad­ows even more.”

KYLE TELECHAN/POST-TRI­BUNE

Lor­rell Kil­patrick, of Black Lives Mat­ter-North­west In­di­ana, speaks in East Chicago on Sat­ur­day as part of a protest against de­por­ta­tions.

KYLE TELECHAN/POST-TRI­BUNE PHO­TOS

Pas­tor Charles Stri­etelmeier, left, of Au­gus­tana Lutheran Church in Ho­bart, speaks Sat­ur­day in East Chicago, where pro­test­ers, right, gath­ered.

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