By Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS)–State and city officials Monday are under pressure to pull funding from the Gary-Chicago Airport–following accusations that the aviation hub is used by the federal government to deport thousands of immigrants–on Chicago’s dime.

A 1995 City of Chicago agreement pushes at least $500,000 per year to the Gary Chicago Regional Airport. But that deal is now in question following accusations the airport has become a hotspot for deportations.

“Chicago is a welcoming city (and) is appropriating millions of dollars that may well be supporting ICE deportation efforts,” said 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke.

Burke was joined by other politicians Monday, who pressed the Board of Directors of the Gary Chicago Regional Airport to dissolve the agreement.

“Chicago should have no part in financing this act of racism discrimination and hatred,” said Senator Martin Sandoval.

Burke and Sabndoval, along with other lawmakers, argue that ICE contracts with a private company that uses the airport for deportation.

Board Chairman Elvin Charity sees things from a different lens.

“The notion of this compact board funding deportations is outrageous,” Charity said.

He called on both cities to work together to address the uses of the airport.

Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Lauren Huffman called the request to pull funding for the Gary airport “puzzling.”

“Ending the nearly 25-year relationship with Gary would have no impact on ICE operations out of the Gary Airport. The federal government decides where these flights operate regardless of the wishes of local municipalities, to suggest otherwise misunderstands the federal government’s authority to operate wherever it wishes. Chicago is a national leader in protecting immigrant and refugee communities. Mayor Emanuel’s administration has fought Pres. Trump in court – and won – to defend Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance, and will not waiver from its commitment to protect our residents, regardless of their immigration status,” she wrote in an email.


Charlie De Mar