Reporting Lisa Fielding
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CHICAGO (WBBM) - What started out as a Homeland Security hearing turned into a protest in the streets on Wednesday.
A half an hour into the hearing, dozens walked out of the IBEW Hall on Washington Boulevard in the West Loop.
Several members of the Immigration Youth Justice League sat in the intersection of Washington and Des Plaines Street and blocked traffic, then moved to the Washington on ramp to the Kennedy Expressway.
“We couldn’t stand by and listen to them say it’s going to get better,” said Tania Unzuta.
She says several of her friends were arrested and are undocumented and risk deportation but says they were willing to risk it to send a message.
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“These were undocumented people who were risking arrest and who are currently risking deportation because they want to know how urgent this issue is,” Unzuta said.
The demonstrators blocked traffic, chanting “undocumented and unafraid,” while Chicago police tried to divert traffic and to control the spontaneous protest. Several people were arrested.
The group was protesting the government’s Secure Communities program which has come under fire recently.
The federal program, which targets hardened criminals in the country illegally, has come under fire in recent weeks. It requires police to share arrestee’s fingerprints with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Unzuta says that just creates a fast track deportation system.
The Obama Administration declared the program would be expanded nationwide by 2013, a partial response to several states, including Illinois, who sent letters notifying the federal government that they would no longer cooperate.