Fourteen immigrants and immigration rights advocates gathered Thursday afternoon in downtown Aurora to protest what they called unwelcome action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in recent days in the suburbs.
The group, representing Indivisible Aurora, Immigrant Solidarity DuPage and the Immigrant Liberation Alliance, gathered just outside the Paramount Theatre from 3 to 3:30 p.m. holding signs and praying.
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Alberico did not respond to calls and emails Thursday, but agents were believed to have raided a St. Charles restaurant on Tuesday. There also have been unverified reports of ICE taking action in Wheaton, Bolingbrook and Aurora.
Juan Garcia, of the Immigrant Liberation Alliance in Aurora, said ICE agents are not welcome here.
"We denounce and we condemn the ICE presence in and around Aurora because we've heard they were present here Wednesday," Garcia said. "We take no issue with the targeting of people with warrants and criminal convictions. But we strongly oppose when these agents begin questioning otherwise innocent people while on their way to finding the ones their looking for."
Cristobal Cavazos, of Immigrant Solidarity DuPage, said he visited local establishments federal agents were believed to have visited in recent days.
Cavazos said he spoke to restaurant managers who were tipped off and warned their employees to stay home.
"It's hurting many businesses," he said. "Not only are the employees afraid to come to work, but in many cases, the patrons are afraid to visit, too. It's not good."
Nadia Kanhai, of Justice for Our Neighbors, shared some legal advice for anyone approached by an agent.
"The most important thing you must request is a hearing before a judge which will allow them to mount a defense," she said. "And do not sign any departure order."
A "Know Your Rights" seminar is being sponsored by the Aurora Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Aurora's Santori Public Library.