Car caravan protesting ICE held in Woodstock

People from around the area took part in a car caravan to call for McHenry County to end its contract with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and to abolish ICE as a whole, on Saturday.

Several protestors criticized the agency for causing fear among immigrant communities as a whole, and wanted to raise awareness of the fact that McHenry County Jail houses ICE detainees.

Through its agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service, McHenry County earns $95 a day for each ICE detainee held at the jail.

Luis Aguilar, one of the organizers of the car caravan who lives in Crystal Lake, said he has heard of the struggles some of his family members have had when becoming citizens.

"I have a few members who have had to face deportation," Aguilar said. "It just doesn't seem fair. People are just trying to make a living here."

Alli Carroll, another car caravan organizer, said McHenry County's contract with ICE "doesn't reflect our views."

"[ICE] is terrorizing people," Carroll said. "And that's not OK in this community."

Carroll said America is a country made up of immigrants.

"It's what brings in culture," Carroll said. "I think all should be welcome here."

The car caravan's mission, Carroll said, was to put pressure on the McHenry County Board to end its agreement with ICE, and also put pressure on Congress to get rid of ICE in the United States.

As people decorated their cars and hung signs on their vehicles before the event started, organizers passed out pieces of paper with McHenry County Board members' names and phone numbers on them, as well as members of Congress' information.

Elgin resident Abel Barraza said he came to the car caravan because he thinks it's unjust and hypocritical that a country that claims to be built for everybody does not give everyone freedoms.

For Mahairy Martinez, also from Elgin, this issue is personal, as her uncle was detained by ICE after getting pulled over for a traffic stop.

Martinez's uncle was about a month away from getting married to a U.S citizen when this happened.

"That helped him with this process, it made it a little bit easier," Martinez said. "But I remember seeing [my aunt] pregnant, running around, getting papers and documents ready."

It made Martinez really sad to see her uncle in a cell, especially as the only way she could talk to him was through a wall that separated them. She would have to yell over the wall to ask how he was doing.

"It's a very scary thing to see all that happen," Martinez said.

Martinez's uncle is now a U.S citizen, but is still traumatized by his experiences, she added.

Other members of her family are undocumented, she added, and came to the United States looking for a better life, and opportunities they didn't have in their home countries.

As a U.S. citizen, Martinez said, she wants to use the privilege she has to speak up for those who might be too scared to do so themselves.

"I'm here for those who don't have a voice," Martinez said. "We should all have our rights. We're all humans."

Woodstock resident Amanda Hall said speaking up against ICE was something she wanted to do as a community member and a parent.

"It causes such fear among our immigrant families," Hall said. "It shouldn't be here."

As an educator, Hall said she has learned from other teachers that there are immigrant families who are scared to go to parent-teacher conferences, and be active members of the community.

"That's a loss to our community when people are living in fear," Hall said. "The fact that so many immigrant families live in fear in one way or another is truly hard as a community."

McHenry resident Cindy Lawler said she feels that what ICE is doing is "inappropriate and wrong."

"I just hate the whole process and what they've done down at the border," Lawler said. "I mean, they separated families."

Lawler's mother, who also lives in McHenry, Darlene Schlies, said she doesn't like ICE's treatment of people.

"I don't think anybody's illegal," Schlies said.

Though she loves the United States, Schlies said she wants to make it better.

"I'm 77 years old and I've never felt so much like protesting as I do today with what's going on," she said.

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