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Waukegan Support Don’t Deport Rally – Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Hispanic neighbors need our help. According to the most recent studies, Hispanics now constitute the majority of the population of Waukegan. Nonetheless, the Waukegan City Council, continuing its history of hostility towards the Hispanic community, decided recently to implement a new policy of aggressively seeking to deport people.

The new policy empowers the police to initiate deportation proceedings on their own, without help from federal authorities. It allows them to deport people who are legally in this country if they are convicted of crimes, in addition to deporting undocumented residents. In other words, people will be punished because of where they come from, not just because of what they do. The motivation for this policy appears to be a desire to intimidate, displace, and harass Hispanics, and to generate revenue for the city from fines, forfeitures, and federal Homeland Security grants.

If the City Council goes ahead with its plan, families will be torn apart and great hardship will be visited on a group of people for no reason other than that they came here for a better life. Those who remain here, either legally or illegally, will see their communities deteriorate as people succumb to fear. People will be afraid to call the police when they need help because they will know that the police may decide to arrest the victims and not just the criminals.

A short while ago, more than five thousand people rallied in Waukegan to protest the City Council’s action. Two opposing boycotts have also been organized. Hispanics are boycotting Waukegan businesses that support the new anti-immigrant measure, and people who support the City Council are urging people to boycott businesses that support Hispanics.

Because of the enormous outpouring of protest, the City Council has agreed to reconsider its decision this Monday, July 16, 2007. A rally will be held outside the Waukegan City Hall beginning at 5:00 pm. If you cannot get there by 5:00, come later. The rally will continue through the City Council meeting, which starts at 8:00 pm. The Waukegan City Hall is located at 100 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Av. in downtown Waukegan. The Metra train station is just a couple of blocks east.

Our Hispanic friends and neighbors have asked for our help. They would like as many people as possible to attend the rally and show their support. They believe it is important for the City Council to see that this is not a dispute between Hispanics and non-Hispanics; it is a disagreement between people who respect Hispanics and people who resent them and would like them to go away. Our Hispanic neighbors believe it is important for the City Council to see that people in neighboring towns support the Hispanic community.

If you were going to visit friends, you would be willing to drive a half-hour. Will you drive (or take the train) to Waukegan to protect your neighbors from discrimination and oppression?

We can all recall times in history when people needed help from their neighbors. The difference is always made by people who decide to act upon what their conscience tells them to do. Tragedies occur when people turn away from those in need.

The rally will, of course, be peaceful. You can bring a sign if you like.

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