By Crystal Lynn, Gary Crusader
The Northwest Indiana Resist group has organized against the deportation flights out of the Gary/Chicago International Airport. A protest at the Gary/Chicago International Airport on Friday, May 26 shed more light on the individuals and families being torn apart by mass deportations across the nation.
Last Friday, the protestors were out again, chanting in Spanish and English, “Deportaciones, no mas. Deportations, no more.” As the ICE officials prepared to unload the buses carrying deportees, two Gary police officers pushed the protesters back to the lawn in front of the airport, informing them that they were on private property. There was no resistance or arrests of the protesters.
“People need to understand the effects this has on families,” Ruth Needleman, a protester with the Northwest Indiana Resist group, stated. “Most of these people are working people, not criminals, and they are stripped from their families.”
The Northwest Indiana Resist started with a demonstration after President Trump’s executive order against Muslims. It serves as an umbrella for multiple organizations to come together and support each other in protests.
This week, two window tinted busses full of people who have been living in this country illegally pulled into the airport gate. Aboard the busses are families and individuals who have been ripped apart from everything they know, and who are unsure if they’ll ever be reunited with their families again.
The detainees were transported from Broadview, IL and are flown to other domestic airports before being transported back to their native countries.
Deportation increased before the Trump administration. More than two million people were deported during President Obama’s administration.
Conducted by the Air Operations unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the flights out of the Gary/Chicago International Airport began back in June 2013.
The City of Gary voted against having a detainee center structure built across from the airport.
Naming Gary the first municipality in Northwest Indiana as a “welcoming city” seems to be a direct contradiction since the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency still deports out of Gary/Chicago International Airport.
The purpose of the “welcoming city” ordinance is to afford immigrants limited protections against deportations. Proposed by Gary Councilwoman Rebecca Wyatt, D-1st, the “welcoming cities” are different from “sanctuary cities” ordinances, like those upheld in Chicago and Lafayette, Louisiana.
As a “welcoming city” government officials would abstain from harassing residents whose immigration status is uncertain. The new ordinance would also keep the Gary police from having to cooperate in any investigations by the federal ICE officials.
This “welcoming city” ordinance is a large swing from the 2015 proposal by the GEO Group, Inc. who proposed building a detention facility adjacent to the Gary/Chicago International Airport. According to the company, the facility would have brought more than 200 jobs to the city with wages between $13 to $15 per hour. The city estimated that the facility would have brought in about $1 million annually in property taxes. The push back from vocal residents and the City Council voting against it prevented the project from moving forward.
The Gary/Chicago International Airport does not have a contract with ICE but because it receives federal funding it is unable to refuse federal flights from operating at the airport.
ICE deports weekly from the Gary/Chicago International Airport, totaling 62 flights in and out in 2016, according to an analysis of the airport’s flight records. The flights stop in Kansas City to pick up additional ICE detainees before continuing to Brownsville, TX where Mexican nationals are bussed to the border and escorted into Mexico. The majority of the other ICE flights land at Alexandria International Airport in Louisiana where the detainees are flown to their respective countries.