Two men came to Maria Hernadez’s door in Moline, Illinois Monday evening asking for her 19 year old son, Jose. They said they were from the Probation Office and needed to talk to him. This seemed a little strange since Jose had completed his probation several years ago but the family called him to come home. As soon as he came he was arrested and taken to the Rock Island County jail.
The men were federal agents conducting a sweep of immigrants in Illinois with more than one DUI arrest. A new law makes multiple DUI convictions a Class A felony. Immigrants who are not yet citizens and are felons are subject to deportation. For some reason a federal judge had issued an order and a sweep was being conducted. As of Tuesday evening at least 16 people had been arrested and were being held in the Rock Island and Henry county jails.
The Hispanic community in the Illinois Quad Cities is in turmoil. Many of the arrested, like Jose, had completed their probation and paid their fines years ago. Some had been advised by their lawyers to plead guilty to the misdemeanor rather than go to trial since no jail time was involved and this would not affect their immigration status. Many were asking why this was happening now. Did it have something to do with the recent elections? Why were the families not allowed to talk to them in jail? What was going to happen now? Would they be deported without the families being able to see or talk to them?
Jose was a student at Moline High School. Others were arrested at their place of employment. All of them have families. Many of those arrested were the primary wage earners leaving wives and children to worry about how the rent was going to be paid.
How does rounding people up and deporting them years after their DUI fines have been paid and probation served make us safer or improve anything? Who does this judge and these agents serve? Do you approve of their actions?
Read news articles about the arrests:
The Quad Cities Times
The Moline Dispatch