What We Know

While Gary and Chicago are both officially Welcoming Cities, they have long cooperated with the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport immigrants and refugees from Northwest Indiana, Chicago, and the surrounding communities through the Gary/Chicago International Airport. Immigrants and refugees from these areas have been deported out of the Gary/Chicago International Airport for an estimated twelve years. We estimate that as of April 2017, 19,501 people have been deported.

The immigrants and refugees who are deported out of Gary/Chicago International Airport come from all of our local communities and across our region. This encompasses all of Indiana, greater Chicagoland, and most of Illinois—as far north as Milwaukee, as far south as Kentucky.

On January 25, 2017 President Trump signed Executive Order #13768, entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” As implemented, this order vastly broadened the scope of ICE agents’ ability to find and remove illegal immigrants. This has led to a major increase in raids, the “deputization” of local police forces across the country as agents of ICE, and divided many families. Recent evidence indicates that deportation efforts have been expanded, with more buses coming out of the detention centers in Kankakee and Broadview, Illinois, and deportations being conducted out of neighboring airports.

Deportees are detained at the Kankakee and Broadview detention centers with little access to legal services or in-person contact with family and loved ones. They are taken by bus, shackled hand and foot, to an awaiting flight at Gary/Chicago International Airport. They are often flown to Brownsville, Texas and further detained at Port Isabel Detention Center from which, soon thereafter, they are deported out of the US.

These deportations could not happen without the aid of several local businesses. Most notable is the Gary Jet Center, a privately owned and operated fixed base operator at Gary/Chicago International Airport, which has been key in facilitating and expanding ICE’s deportation effort. The Gary Jet Center has contracts with ICE to conduct deportation flights out of their facilities through World Atlantic Airlines. Gary/Chicago International Airport added a customs facility in October 2018, which will allow the Gary Jet Center to help ICE conduct direct out-of-country deportations.