Posted on September 21, 2007

Immigration Activists Pitch ‘Be Prepared’ As New Motto

Tara Malone, Daily Herald (Waukegan, Ill.), September 14, 2007

Waukegan, Ill.–Two months after Waukegan leaders opted to train local officers in immigration enforcement, community leaders Thursday outlined plans for training of a different sort.

They will coach immigrants—legal or not—on exercising due process, hiring an attorney and creating childcare plans in the event of a parent’s deportation.

Confronted with heightened enforcement and weakened odds of federal reform, organizers contend immigrants and immigrant communities as a whole must be prepared.


Waukegan’s Holy Family Church hosts Wednesday the first of seven seminars that will run through December. Six dozen people already have signed up. Carpentersville also falls in the lineup charted by the newly launched Immigrant Defense Committee. The three-day training will cover everything from rules of the road to immigration law.

Due process is a legal guarantee; on that point proponents of stricter enforcement agree. But undocumented immigrants can claim little other legal protection, said Dave Gorak with the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration.

“This is just another attempt to circumvent our laws,” Gorak said.

Illegal immigration has ignited controversy across the suburbs.

Carpentersville and Waukegan were the first towns in Illinois that opted to train, equip and deputize beat cops in immigration enforcement. And 21 of 58 immigrants rounded up in the region’s largest-ever sting that targeted foreign gang members last month lived in the two towns.


A security push targeting undocumented immigrants and companies who knowingly hire them came after comprehensive reform languished in Congress.

In the past nine months, federal authorities deported 5,056 undocumented immigrants from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. Nationwide, 149,376 deportations occurred during that time.

Immigrants facing deportation receive a list of attorneys and foreign consulate contacts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said.

“We afford everybody due process,” she said. “Everything (officers) do is in accordance with immigration laws and legally accepted procedures.”