On Dec. 6, 2013, immigration agents wearing vests marked “POLICE” entered an Albany Park apartment complex under the pretext of searching for a specific person, but instead approached multiple apartments including that of Anibal Elogio Fuentes Aguilar, a Guatemalan immigrant and day laborer who has lived in Chicago more than 10 years and has a son who is a U.S. citizen.
Believing the agents were Chicago Police officers because of the insignia on their clothing, Aguilar greeted them only to be detained and taken from his family. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now seeking to deport him based solely on a time he was apprehended by Border Patrol in 2009 after he had returned to Guatemala to attend his mother’s funeral.
On Jan. 21, Fuentes, his neighbors and their supporters held a press conference outside of the ICE field office at 101 W. Congress where Fuentes announced that he will be submitting a request that ICE stop his deportation.
“When ICE came, they were wearing police vests. I thought they were the police,” explained Fuentes. “When I tried to help and answer their questions, they took me away. My son was crying and I didn’t know if I would see him again.” Mr. Fuentes came to Chicago more than 10 years ago when he was 16 years old. He has no surviving family in Guatemala and fears returning.
“This is the fourth time ICE has raided the same building this year. They are harassing our community, often dressed as police. Previous raids in Albany Park this year resulted in people being deported and families torn apart, but we won’t let that happen to Anibal,” said Eric Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union. He expressed concern that ICE agents conducting raids are wearing vests with police markings. “If ICE looks like the police, how do Chicagoans know who to trust? One has to ask if the Chicago police even knew this was happening.”
“If Congress had passed reform or if the president had halted deportations, Anibal wouldn’t be in this situation. He shouldn’t be punished for Washington’s inaction,” stated Ireri Unzueta of Organized Communities Against Deportations. She expressed hope that ICE would grant Fuentes the relief he deserves. “Anibal’s decision to attend his own mother’s funeral five years ago shouldn’t be cause to take him away from his family now. He is a Chicagoan as much as anyone else. This city is his home. It’s where he’s raising his family. We hope ICE looks at all the circumstances of his case,” Unzueta said.
For more information on Fuentes’s case, visit www.notonemoredeportation.com/portfolio/anibal.