As potential ICE raids loom over the weekend, fear and uncertainty are pervasive in the city’s immigrant communities, and protesters are voicing their concerns about the threat.
In several communities around the Chicago area, protesters took to the streets to opposed the planned deportation raids, marching down Michigan Avenue and ending their rally outside the U.S. Immigration building in the city.
“It’s scary, but as long as you educate yourself, you can protect yourself and your community,” one participant said.
Activists and protesters rallied at the Daley Plaza at 11 a.m. Saturday in solidarity with the immigrant community in Chicago against possible ICE raids.
The goal is to draw attention to planned raids by ICE this weekend, which are expected to take place in several large cities across the United States.
An announcement was also expected to be made at the rally for a follow up protest, according to organizers of the event.
"We will do everything in our power to stop families from being torn apart," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Twitter Saturday morning. "You have guaranteed rights in our country, regardless of your immigration status."
Congressman Chuy García was among the noticeable speakers at Saturday's rally, chanting in Spanish “Trump nos ofende, Chicago se defiende,” or "Trump offends, while Chicago defends."
“I am very proud to be here among each and every one of you recognizing that Chicago and Chicagoland is the first city in the country to become a sanctuary city,” García said.
"Asians, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ people, all of our rights are under attack, " he said. "Look around you, look at the community…this is family that surrounds us, this is what Donald Trump is trying to destroy to rip us apart, to dehumanize us. Let us ask ourselves what we value, which side are you on?"
García continued to say that now is the time to stand together in complete solidarity with all immigrants.
“Now my friends, is not the time to be afraid, together we are stronger than any president.”
The raids are part of an enforcement plan on the part of the Trump administration, and the president defended the plans in a press availability Friday.
“It starts on Sunday, and they’re going to take people out and take them back to their countries, or they’re going to take criminals and put them in prison,” the president said. “We are really specifically looking for bad players, but we’re also looking for people who came into our country not through a process, and they have to leave.”
The administration insists that its enforcement actions are aimed at “criminals,” according to the president, but some, including Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, have expressed concern that other immigrants may pay the price.
“These people are simply asking for a chance to lead good lives and to be a part of America’s future,” Durbin said. “It is shameful to think we have reached this point in this great country.”
In Chicago’s suburbs, protesters showed their support with rallies in Aurora and several other communities. Meanwhile, in the city, Lightfoot announced new protections and resources for immigrants via an executive action on Friday.
The city is investing an extra $250,000 in its legal protection fund, and the action also reaffirmed the city’s commitment not to cooperate with ICE agents targeting immigrant families.