Undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. should not expect protection from deportation. However, when federal agents come to town and raid a business, they ought to inform the public about who they have arrested, why, and where those people have been taken.
In two local incidents in the area this month, the only information about the activities of federal agents in our communities has been from unofficial sources.
In the past, some of those immigrants in detention have been taken to the McHenry County Jail.
On May 22, federal agents visited the restaurant Francesca’s By the River in St. Charles, a representative of the business confirmed. On June 1, they went to Alfredo’s Iron Works in Cortland, where the owner confirmed that several workers were arrested for immigration violations.
After the enforcement action in Cortland, the agency that made the arrests, presumably Immigration and Customs Enforcement, directed inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which had no comment. Local authorities, when asked about federal immigration raids in the area, have said they had little or no knowledge and did not participate.
Government must operate with a higher level of transparency than this, especially when people’s freedom is at stake. People should not simply disappear from our communities without explanation.
There are hundreds of undocumented immigrants living and working in our communities, and the Pew Research Center estimates there are about 11 million in the U.S. Many exist on the fringes, with no desire to attract any attention to themselves. Some have been living here for years or even decades. Illinois accommodates them in ways, including by issuing them temporary visitor driver’s licenses.
When they are arrested in America, however, the public has a right to know who they are. Just as we have the right to know when local, county or state authorities take people into custody.
Add to this the fact that without any information about the people arrested, the public has no way of evaluating the actions of its government. Did they have criminal histories? Have they been deported before and returned? Do they have families, children who may be American citizens who depend on their incomes and may now need help?
The public gets no answers when authorities provide no information. There will be more of these actions in communities around the area and the country in the years to come. President Donald Trump, after his election in November 2016, vowed to deport as many as 3 million people, targeting criminals and people with criminal records. Immigration officials have begun almost 2,300 employer audits in the eight months from Oct. 1 to May 4, the Associated Press reported. That’s a 60 percent increase from the total in the entire year before.
There are ways for foreigners to legally live and work in our country. Those who disregard the law deserve to be sent back.
That doesn’t relieve government of its obligation to tell the public what it is doing. America should not be a place where people simply disappear.