Fears about deportation and calling attention to themselves have many immigrants across Illinois and Wisconsin making changes to their daily routines, and a newly issued warning may lead to even more deviations. Per CBS Chicago, immigrants at airports are increasingly receiving unwanted attention from customs and border patrol agents, even if they are not actually traveling by plane, and the crackdown has immigrants throughout the region fearful of getting stopped and questioned.
Customs and border patrol officials have considerable power and jurisdiction at airports, and many of them are enhancing their efforts to identify undocumented immigrants under the current presidential administration. Though tactics used by agents at O’Hare and other airports are not necessarily new, some immigration advocates feel customs and border patrol agents are now less hesitant to exercise their powers, given the current nationwide crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
Furthermore, it is not just undocumented immigrants traveling by plane who are heeding warnings about avoiding airports. Even those just picking up or dropping off other travelers may undergo questioning about their immigration status, emphasizing the need for all undocumented immigrants, and not just ticketed passengers, to proceed with extreme caution when visiting airports.
Per the American Immigration Council, one in seven Illinois residents is now an immigrant, and immigrants made up for nearly 18 percent of the state’s workforce in 2013. Just over 5 percent of Illinois immigrants in the workforce, per a 2012 study, were unauthorized, and the state’s undocumented immigrants paid more than $793 million in local and state taxes that same year.