Congressman Helps Win Release of Chicago Pallet Co. Workers as Virgin of Guadalupe Celebrated by Community

All 34 Chicago Pallet Company Workers Released — But Other Victims of New I.C.E. Activitiy Remain in Custody; Community Questions Holiday Season Arrests “Obama, We Want a Family Unity Christmas”

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–December 12, 2012. Over $70,000 has been raised by poor immigrant working families desperate to have their father or mother released from jail. “We have been working hard to restore these families before Christmas. A crime has been committed, and the criminal is ICE, and the victims are the workers and their families that have suffered emotional and financial hardship, and the scars left on the hearts of the children this holiday season,” says Padre Jose Landaverde.

While the last three of the 34 workers arrested in last week’s workplace raid by I.C.E. were released last Friday morning at 3 A.M., an unknown number of others caught up in ICE actions throughout Chicago remain in custody as the community turns to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12th, including nearly a dozen “jornaleros” (day laborers) picked up from a McDonald’s parking lot on the Northwest side. The marathon release effort was led by Father Jose Landaverde, Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission, and Pastora Emma Lozano of Familia Latina Unida, who were joined by Congressman Luis Gutierrez to pressure Homeland Security on the controversial arrests.

The heightened I.C.E. activity last week has raised questions about the Obama administration’s commitment to immigration reform. “How can we believe a President whose administration is trying to deport the very people he says he wants to legalize?”

The great majority of the workers were longstanding residents with no criminal records, and U.S. citizen or “dream act” eligible children. According to Fr. Landaverde, “The tears of little children crying for their fathers brings back the cruel and unjust reality of one million deportations in the Obama administration’s first term. Even after the election, we are still living that reality.”

Congressman Gutierrez pressed ICE continuously for two days to win the Chicago Pallet worker’s release without cash bonds, but many had already paid their bonds. The workers are now organizing their defense against deportation. The congressman noted that he would challenge the policy of “collateral arrests” outside the scope of a warrant.

A full report of next steps in the Christmas season release effort and response to ICE will be announced at the press conference on Wednesday December 12th, 2012, at 11 a.m., at the Mission (3442 W 26th St.) during the Celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe.