LOGAN SQUARE — A father of five was arrested by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Logan Square this week, and now neighbors are rallying to help the man and his family.
The arrest happened at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at California Avenue and Point Street, according to the man’s wife.
The man, in his 30s, was driving to the store to pick up popcorn for a movie night at home with his wife, their 13-year-old daughter and 6-year-old grandson in the car when an ICE agent pulled them over, the man’s wife said.
Block Club is not naming the man because he is undocumented. The man’s wife declined to be named.
“He was wearing a vest but the vest only said ‘police.’ It didn’t say anything about ICE. I said, ‘Can you please identify yourself?’ He’s like, ‘I have a warrant for his arrest,'” the man’s wife recounted.
The man’s wife said the ordeal was traumatic: She argued with the agent and demanded he show his badge. He resisted at first, but eventually said he works for ICE and took her husband into custody, she said.
“We fought for it,” she said. “My daughter was having an anxiety attack, an asthma attack, nonstop crying. My husband was like, ‘Stop trying. I’ll be home tomorrow.'”
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Alberico said the man was arrested for being an “unlawfully present national of Mexico.” She also said the man was convicted of a drug charge in 2003. The man is being detained in McHenry County Jail pending immigration proceedings, Alberico said.
The man’s wife takes issue with the agency using an old drug charge to justify his arrest.
“They’re bringing up any little thing they could bring up,” she said. “It was 2003. That was 17 years ago. It’s because he was smoking marijuana when he was young.”
“Everyone goes through their teen years and learns from their mistakes. Is this the cause? He’s a monster to society? Because I don’t know what to say. I think everyone deserves an opportunity. … he formed a family, we have five children, he was working, doing housekeeping.”
Local aldermen, including Ald. La Spata (1st), who represents the area where the arrest happened, posted about the the incident on social media and encouraged neighbors to donate to Chase Elementary’s Solidarity Fund.
The man is a parent of Chase Elementary students.
“Hey friends. A parent from one of our local elementary schools was arrested by ICE yesterday. We’re still waiting to learn more, but for right now this family desperately needs financial support. Please donate whatever you can at www.chasesolidarity.weebly.com,” La Spata wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
Since the posts, donations have been pouring in for the family: Neighbors have donated about $9,000 and counting to the Chase fund. Some of that money will go toward paying the man’s bail bond and other costs related to the arrest.
“I”m very grateful. I’m speechless,” the man’s wife said. “I really hope everything comes out fine and he gets to come back home.”
A bond has not yet been set, ICE officials said.
‘We Have Hope’
A group of Chase teachers and staffers launched the Chase Elementary Solidarity Fund in April to help Chase families who are struggling due to the coronavirus criss.
The Logan Square elementary school at 2021 N. Point St. enrolls mostly Latino, low-income students, according to Chicago Public Schools. The pandemic and the economic fallout has hit Latino communities especially hard.
“A lot of parents lost their jobs due to COVID, a lot of parents were struggling to pay their rent, get food. Some parents had the virus. We just felt like this was something we could do to help them out,” said Elizabeth Espoz, a first grade teacher at Chase.
Over the course of about two months, Espoz and other Chase teachers and staffers raised about $7,000, which they then distributed to families in need. The money went toward paying rent, bills, groceries and more, far surpassing the organizers’ expectations.
“We were super proud of the fact that we were able to raise $7,000 in a couple of months,” said Christine Dussault, dual language coordinator at Chase.
But this week, after the aldermen posted about the Chase father who was arrested by ICE, the fund exploded. In one day, the fund brought in about $9,000 in donations.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I think we’d be able to raise $9,000 in one day,” Dussault said. “But it speaks to what people feel about the presence of ICE. … how it devastates families.”
In the coming days, the group will be working with the man’s family to determine how much of the $9,000 they need.
The group wants to make sure the family is part of the discussion every step of the way.
The rest of the donations will go to other Chase families in need, some of whom are undocumented and face similar challenges as the man who was arrested this week.
“This is not in any way a substitute for institutional action or political action,” said Nick Donahue, special education teacher at Chase. “This is something we see as a way to get an immediate and very community-level response, that because of our relationships we have an opportunity to do.”
Just a few days after the arrest, the man’s wife has returned to work. She and her husband clean homes in Logan Square, Wicker Park and other neighborhoods. They launched their business about four years ago.
She said her husband moved from his hometown of Puebla, Mexico to Chicago in 2000 and in recent years they were working on securing his citizenship status, but came up short when it came time to hire a lawyer. ICE spokeswoman Nicole Alberico confirmed the man came to the country in 2000.
“To be honest, I never thought this was going to happen to us,” the man’s wife said. “I’ve seen it on TV, I’ve seen it with other people, but never expected this to happen to my family, to me.”
She said their kids, most of them teenagers, are “sad and depressed, but they have hope.”
“We have hope because of the help we’re receiving,” she said. “A lot of people in our community, in our neighborhood are helping. It’s just a blessing.”
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