Driving to work can be dangerous for Latinos in Chicago. Latinos are being pulled over and having their cars searched at disproportionate rates to the rest of the population, according to research by the Chicago Reporter. This alleged racial profiling would be reprehensible under normal circumstances, but with increasing cooperation between local police and immigration officials, routine traffic stops are spiraling into deportations, leading to greater mistrust between Latinos and police.
“State and local law governments collaborating with the federal government [in immigration matters] is very troubling,” Adam Schwartz of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois told the Chicago Reporter. “It leads directly to racial profiling. We think it drives a wedge between communities. It’s a horrible social policy.”
The Chicago police department may have more nefarious motivations for detaining immigrants, Zane Seipler told the Chicago Reporter. For every undocumented immigrant they detain at the McHenry County Jail, the county is paid $85 per day. Seipler alleges that traffic stops and arrests started going up after this policy was put in place. After Seipler requested an investigation, he was fired for violating rules. He’s currently suing for wrongful termination and a violation of the Civil Rights Act, though police say his allegations are without merit.
One possible solution to the racial profiling is to offer everyone, including undocumented immigrants, drivers certificates. In theory, certificates would take the immigration aspect out of traffic stops, fostering greater trust and cooperation between the police and immigrants.
A similar program has been implemented with some success in New Haven, Connecticut, according to Governing magazine. In spite of the pitched political conflicts surrounding immigration, Governing reports that the “Elm City ID Card” has “boosted immigrants' use of the public libraries and made them more comfortable about talking to the police.” Some say it’s helped immigrants feel more a part of the community, too.