CORTLAND – Weeks after eight workers at Alfredo's Iron Works were detained by federal immigration agents, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, has sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Chicago office asking questions
Foster said he sent the letter to demand answers about the nature of "Operation Keep Safe," which resulted in a recent string of arrests and detainments in the Chicago area. In May, ICE announced that its officers had arrested 156 immigrants in the Chicago area, according to Foster's statement.
News and images of ICE agents at multiple locations across northern Illinois spread on social media in May. Local immigration advocacy groups and immigration lawyers shared information about individuals' rights when ICE agents approached or made arrests. Foster represents the 11th Congressional District.
"I strongly condemn any attempt to instill fear in our immigrant community," Foster said in the statement. "I am proud to represent a district with vibrant and diverse immigrant communities from around the world."
In Cortland, ICE agents raided the factory at 280 W. Lincoln Highway on June 1, questioning all employees and arrested eight people on what are misdemeanor charges. Sara Dady, Democratic candidate for the 16th Congressional District, then organized a protest June 8 at First Street and Lincoln Highway. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, currently represents the district, which includes DeKalb County.
In his letter, Foster asks multiple questions about the number and nature of stops ICE agents made, including those who were stopped but not arrested. He further inquired whether those stopped were fingerprinted, how many of those stopped or arrested had a warrant, where those detained were held, whether those detained had children and whether any of those detained were in the country legally.
Every Democratic member of the Illinois Delegation in Congress, including Sen. Dick Durbin, signed the letter.
"The people of Illinois deserve no less than a complete and detailed response to each of the questions laid out in the letter," Foster said in the statement. "I look forward to reviewing the response."