Duckworth, Garcia commit to immigrants

Senator calls Trump border policies ‘inhumane’ and ‘systematically cruel’

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth holds a roundtable discussion with immigrant groups and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and state Sen. Omar Aquino (left) in Chicago. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth holds a roundtable discussion with immigrant groups and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and state Sen. Omar Aquino (left) in Chicago. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

CHICAGO — Two leading members of the Illinois congressional delegation held a roundtable discussion with state politicians and immigrant groups Monday to coordinate responses to President Trump’s detention policy at the border with Mexico.

“We’re not going to allow hostage taking anymore,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth following the session held at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights offices in Chicago with U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

“I know how heartbreaking the past week has been for this community,” Duckworth said. “This administration’s immigration agenda isn’t random, it’s systematically cruel. From deporting veterans to ripping babies from their mothers at the border, we need to work together to stop Trump from traumatizing any more families, and I’m proud to join Congressman Garcia and these hardworking immigrant-rights advocates here at ICIRR today to ensure we’re all working together to protect immigrants and refugees seeking a better life.”

“Last weekend, I canvassed neighborhoods in my district to help inform residents of their rights,” Garcia said. “My office is working closely with local elected officials and community organizations to ensure that immigrants have the information they need to prepare for potential (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids. Our discussions with grassroots organizations are crucial to keep us updated on what they are experiencing. Everyone in the U.S. has constitutional rights and protections and we will stand up to protect their rights.”

In addition to detaining and even separating family members at the southern border, Trump has also recently threatened ICE raids against undocumented immigrants, specifically mentioning Chicago as a potential target.

The meeting included state Sen. Omar Aquino and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both of Chicago, as well as Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya and immigration groups including ICIRR, the National Immigrant Justice Center, Centro Romero, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Jewish United Fund, HANA Center, Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Illinois Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services, and PASO West Suburban Action Project.

The discussion was basically to share information and declare solidarity on the issue.

“We do want to stay united,” Duckworth said, in the face of “the inhumanity of what is happening with the Trump administration.

“We’re going to do everything we can,” Duckworth added, “but in these times, and when this administration is so cruel, when they have policies that criminalize people and criminalize children, we have to remain united and say this is not how best to deal with this problem.

“Putting people in detention centers and using private detention centers and overstuffing them with human beings is not the answer.”

Duckworth praised Cassidy and Aquino for their efforts to pass a bill banning private detention centers in Illinois, signed into law last month by Gov. Pritzker.

According to Duckworth, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has unilaterally moved to deport undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel deployed overseas, and the Trump administration has moved to deport veterans who aren’t legal residents. “It’s inhumane, and it’s not what the Department of Defense wants,” Duckworth said. “We’re a better country than what we’re doing right now.”

Duckworth added it was not easy to get legislation critical of the administration through Congress with Republicans in control of the Senate, but she insisted, “We’re there, we’re fighting every step of the way. We’re not just going to let them do this without a fight.”