Did ICE raid St. Charles restaurants?
Instead of serving in her usual role as operating partner at Puebla Modern Mexican, Kim Lawson found herself alone in the kitchen of the downtown St. Charles restaurant Tuesday night because her kitchen staff did not show up for work.
Lawson said she heard of at least two restaurants nearby that were visited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers earlier that day. On Wednesday morning, she was notified by several of her employees that they wouldn't be coming to work again, she said. They were afraid Puebla would be next for ICE visit.
ICE statement"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. ICE officers are out in the community every day conducting targeted arrests. While looking for those specific individuals, ICE officers sometimes encounter others who are also in violation of U.S. immigration laws. However, as ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of U.S. immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."
"It has greatly affected every single business," Lawson said. "It caused a lot of fear."
The restaurants mentioned by Lawson, as well as several others in the area, either declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries from the Daily Herald.
When asked if immigration enforcement activity was conducted in the St. Charles area, ICE officials released a statement saying officers are "out in the community every day conducting targeted arrests."
It was not confirmed whether any arrests were made in St. Charles.
St. Charles police received questions about potential ICE activity in the area Tuesday but said in a statement they have "no knowledge of what transpired." The police department was not involved, and the city was not advised of ICE operations.
City officials said they reached out to ICE to confirm immigration enforcement activity in the area but received the same statement as what was provided to the Daily Herald.
Lawson said she intends to organize an informational seminar on immigration rights for business owners and their employees. She also wants to raise money to help affected families manage legal costs.
Advocacy group Indivisible Aurora also released a statement on Facebook saying community members should be aware of their rights if they come in contact with ICE officers. A "Know Your Rights" seminar is being hosted by the Aurora chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Saturday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Santori Public Library.