Fighting for Chicago to Truly Be a Sanctuary City

At this year’s May Day rally and march, members of Organized Communities Against Deportations and Mijente announced a federal lawsuit against CPD and ICE agents, McHenry County, ICE’s Chicago Field Director, and the city of Chicago.

Celene Adame, wife of the man filing the suit, said that CPD’s sharing of its “Gang Database” with ICE led to a violation of her husband Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez’s rights. When CPD mislabeled Catalan-Ramirez, who has no criminal record, as a gang member and communicated that false information to ICE, he was swept up in a violent ICE raid targeting people who are alleged to have gang affiliations.

In what is supposed to be a sanctuary city, the suit alleges that the manner in which CPD gathers and disseminates false information about gang membership violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial and ethnic discrimination.

Adame said that ICE agents barged into her home without a warrant and arrested her husband, who suffers from partial paralysis as a result of being a victim of gun violence. “They were not looking for us. They came using tricks and so I am suing the police system and the immigration system for what they caused us. They broke my husband’s arm. They grabbed him with force, threw him against the floor in front of me, in front of our son who is three years old. They violated his rights too. He is an American citizen. And they violated my rights as a Hispanic. They came into my house without an order, with nothing.”

At a time full of fear and uncertainty, Tania Unzueta of Mijente thinks its important to highlight examples of resistance, such as this lawsuit. “We are here because the community needs to see that we have to keep organizing. We have raids, we have the police criminalizing our communities, the president attacking us, but we want them to know that we continue to resist, and we continue to mobilize. And for me, the story of Wilmer and Celene is an example of how, even though he is detained, even though he has everything against him, we are using all the tools we can to fight, from the marches, and organizing, to taking legal action.”

More on making Chicago a sanctuary city for immigrant and U.S. born citizens alike from Tania Unzueta: