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Local

Arrested workers ‘collateral damage,’ group says

Immigrant advocates say jurisdictional mix in raids can erode public’s trust

DeKALB – A DeKalb-based immigrant advocacy group issued a statement Thursday condemning both the arrest of undocumented workers and local law enforcement’s involvement in a June raid that led to the recent federal indictment against the owner of Alfredo’s Iron Works, calling that raid an example of “an erosion of trust.”

“The recent indictments against the owner of Alfredo’s Iron Works in Cortland reminds us of the collateral damage that can occur when different jurisdictions become involved in otherwise targeted actions by law enforcement,” reads a statement from Welcoming Western Counties: Solidarity and Sanctuary Coalition, according to the statement sent to the Daily Chronicle on Thursday.

Luis Alfredo De La Cruz, 49, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Rockford, accused of smuggling and transporting two undocumented immigrants and harboring eight undocumented immigrants. He is accused of harboring the eight people at his business, Alfredo’s Iron Works, 280 W. Lincoln Highway in Cortland, by employing them there, according to a Tuesday news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois in Rockford. Alfredo’s Iron Works was raided by federal immigration services June 1, during which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials removed eight employees from the plant.

The coalition most recently helped organize an immigrant-ally training at Northern Illinois University, and also organized protests in response to the June ICE raid.

“We are not defending De La Cruz in this matter,” said coalition member Dana Yarak on Thursday. “Instead, we’re focusing on the Cortland raid and how the mixing of enforcement and investigation – not to mention the participation of some local authorities – leads to negative consequences for local communities.”

“When a sole breadwinner leaves for work in the morning and doesn’t return home because they have disappeared into the labyrinth of detention, the immediate consequences on a family are dire,” the statement continues. “And when rumors spread in the aftermath of immigration detentions – abetted by the knowledge that local law enforcement played a role in the action – the resulting panic has negative consequences beyond just the fear felt in vulnerable populations.”

The coalition’s statement stressed the consequences of letting immigration policy becoming a “political weapon.”

“When the politicization and demonization of the immigration issue at the national level – and confusion about law enforcement’s role at the local level – leads to erosion of trust, public safety for everyone suffers. Property crimes go unreported, domestic violence incidents escalate without consequences, and vital cooperation with authorities in cases that do come to light decreases.”

To read Welcome Western Counties’ full statement, visit our website, daily-chronicle.com.

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