The protest, which was dubbed the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights rally, drew hundreds of loud yet peaceful demonstrators to the area of Clark Street and Congress Parkway in Chicago’s Loop, where the regional U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) building is located.
Blocking traffic to make a point
The demonstrators, many of whom were affiliated with labor unions and immigrant rights organizations, set up in a busy part of downtown during rush hour, blocking traffic in the area for about 45 minutes before they were removed by police.
The timing of the rally was intended to be disruptive, which led to increased public exposure, further highlighting the issues at hand. It also garnered the attention of several local politicians, including Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno (District 1).
“This is personal for me,” Moreno, whose grandfather earned a Purple Heart in World War II but received a “non-citizen discharge” from the Army because he was born in Mexico, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s also a matter of just changing terrible policy,” he added.
Immigration and deportation reform
Demonstrators made their point through speeches and by carrying signs. Many of the people at the rally told stories of family members who had been deported by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), breaking apart their families. Speeches and signs referenced the number 2 million, which is the number of people that will have been deported by the Obama administration by early next year, according to organizers of the event.
The police allowed the demonstration to go on for awhile before intervening, warning protesters to disperse several times. They did eventually clear the streets, writing 121 citations as they did so.