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Chicago immigrant rights protesters blockade court

By Tom Burke

Reverend Landaverde blocks Chicago immigration court entrance.

Chicago, IL – Immigrant rights leaders here were arrested while blockading the doors of the building that houses the federal immigration court in the Chicago Loop, May 15. Occupy Chicago gathered with immigrant rights leaders and youth to protest the sharp increase in deportations. Speakers began the rally around noon, when suddenly the crowd doubled in size with the arrival of marchers from Centro Sin Fronteras and other immigrant rights groups. The Reverend Jose Landaverde and Mexican-American community leader Emma Lozano were both arrested after sitting in and blocking the entrance demanding justice.

During the sit in, Emma Lozano, surrounded by cops on one side and protesters on the other, said, “Many families are being divided by the immigration courts decisions. Moms and dads are being put in detention centers where they cannot work and support their families. Then they are deported and their children and spouses have to figure out how to reunite with them. It is time for justice! We have to take a stand against this broken system.”

Artemio Arreola, a leader of Chicago’s mega-marches in 2006, spoke at the rally saying, “We need equality, not more detention centers. There are well funded corporate lobbyists trying to get the state of Illinois to build a private, for profit detention center in Crete, Illinois, 30 miles outside Chicago. We have to stop this and put an end to deportations!”

Jorge Mujica called for, “an end to the increase in deportations that began with the economic downturn, but is continuing under President Obama. We are protesting here this week in unity with the big protests against NATO, against war and poverty. Instead of spending money on war, we want money spent on schools and mental health clinics that the City of Chicago is shutting down.”

During the long rally, a spirited group from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression gave interviews, distributed flyers and gathered petition signatures in solidarity with Los Angeles immigrant rights activist and Chicano leader Carlos Montes. The large poster of Carlos Montes was popular and many took photos of it. Many people had heard that the trial of Carlos Montes began that same day and some young people began calling the office of District Attorney Steve Cooley, demanding he, “Drop the charges now!”

The arrests ended the protests outside the immigration courts. Occupy Chicago and many Latino youth marched away down busy Canal Street, chanting and shouting, with the police chasing behind them. A Chicago police wagon soon roared after them with lights and sirens blaring, as the protesters disappeared from sight.

Mexican-American immigrant rights leader Emma Lozano and Reverend Landaverde pro

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