CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) - The Chicago Transit Authority has taken to social media to deny rumors that immigration officials have been checking identification at transit stations this week.
“There have been NO incidences of ID checkpoints for purposes of verifying immigration status anywhere on CTA,” the CTA said in a statement posted on social media and on its Twitter account. “We do not participate in or support this type of activity.”
The statement was posted in both English and Spanish.
“It’s important to us that everyone — no matter who they are, how they identify or where they’re from — feel comfortable and confident riding transit in Chicago,” the statement read. “You are welcome here.”
The rumor gained traction on social media Tuesday when several people posted unsourced accounts that federal officials were checking the immigration status of people at CTA stations.
Since 2014, Chicago police stationed at “L” stops have conducted periodic screenings of passengers’ bags. If a rider consents, his or her bag is swabbed to detect explosives. If the rider does not consent to the swab, he or she is prevented from entering the train system.
The CTA identified the bag swabs as a possible source of the rumors and noted that the screenings “are not new, nor do they include ID checks of any kind.”
The rumors come at a tense time for immigrants. President Donald Trump has taken a hardline stance against illegal immigration that, according to one local organizer, has created an “atmosphere of terror” among immigrants regardless of documentation status.
Nearly 50 people were arrested in enforcement raids from Feb. 4 through Friday in the Chicago area, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The raids were similar to those conducted under the Obama administration.
“What is different is the level of fear,” organizer Gabe Gonzalez said Monday.