After ‘Citizens Academy’ postponement, immigration rights groups call for defunding of ICE, police

Weeks after pushing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to scrap its controversial “Citizens Academy,” immigration rights groups rallied in the Loop Tuesday, calling for the defunding of the federal agency and local police.

The groups marched from the ICE field office to Federal Plaza where they held their counter “People’s Academy” workshop, explaining the history of ICE and expressing support for a Civilian Police Accountability Council that would have the power to hire and fire the police superintendent, create policy, investigate misconduct claims and set the budget.

The activists had wanted to hold the “People’s Academy” in front of the ICE field office, 101 W. Ida B. Wells Dr., but there wasn’t enough room on the sidewalk for the crowd.

Gabriel Montero, of the Chicago Alliance Against Political Repression, told other rally attendants that a Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC, would help defund the Chicago Police Department.

“The end of white supremacy requires that police be under direct control of Black and Brown communities, punto (period),” Montero said.

During the rally, activists pushed around a float that depicted Robert Guadian, the director of ICE’s Chicago field office.

“Undocumented, unafraid,” many chanted while others proclaimed “Black Lives Matter” in Spanish and English.

ICE’s “Citizens Academy” was scheduled to start Tuesday, but the agency recently announced it was postponing it until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

ICE had said the academy would be modeled after other law enforcement academies and would include an overview of immigration history, a demonstration of the training immigration officers go through, a tour of a jail housing detainees and information about the division that oversees flights that deport people.

But advocates decried the academy as an example of white supremacy, saying it would lead to more fear among immigrants.

By Elvia Malagón for CHICAGO SUN TIMES
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