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Chicago could change who can remove passengers from planes following United incident

Chicago employees couldn’t help airline employees remove passengers from planes except during crimes or emergencies under a measure aldermen advanced Monday, responding to the infamous dragging incident on a United Airlines[1] flight at O’Hare International Airport[2]. Confusion remains, though, over whether city aviation officers will continue to wear uniforms identifying them as police or be redesignated as “security.”

The ordinance the Aviation Committee moved Monday reinforces a rule the Aviation Department already put into effect soon after airport officers dragged passenger Dr. David Dao off a plane in April. Video of the incident got worldwide attention, prompting an apology from United’s CEO and changes to the company’s procedures. The proposed ordinance states: “No employee of the City of Chicago shall aid airline personnel in the removal of a passenger from an airplane at any public airport owned or operated by the city or from entering an aircraft unless a crime was committed, or in the case of a medical emergency.” It now heads to the full City Council, which is set to meet Wednesday.

Much of the committee meeting turned into a debate with Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans about whether she will follow through with a January directive requiring the word “police” to be removed from the airport officers’ jackets and uniforms. Evans said the officers aren’t police and that identifying them as such exposes the city to liability. She said her directive to change the jackets and uniforms within the next several months remains in effect. Evans also said, though, that she will consider any recommendations on the naming of the agency made by city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who’s conducting his own investigation into the United incident.

And she said she will consult with representatives of the Israel Airports Authority, an Israeli airport security organization that’s being paid $245,000 to undertake a months-long review this year of security at O’Hare and Midway airports. Evans also said she would seek feedback from the union representing the airport officers on why it would be a problem to stop referring to them as police officers. Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents 292 officers who work at O’Hare and Midway, filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board in April, asking the board to order the city not to make any changes to the officers’ “duties or symbols of authority” until it gives the union notice and “a full opportunity to bargain over proposed changes.”

The union contends aviation officers are certified police officers, complete with Chicago Police Academy training, and have all the powers of sworn Chicago Police Department officers. Aviation officers are not allowed to carry guns, however.

After the meeting, reporters asked Evans if she will move ahead with stripping the airport officers of the “police” designation. “They are not police,” Evans said before ducking into an aldermanic office at City Hall[3]. Several aldermen were left scratching their heads Monday about Evans’ plans for the insignia on the uniforms. “I’m afraid, commissioner, you’ve contradicted yourself here and you’ve added quite a bit of confusion,” said Southwest Side Ald. Marty Quinn[4], 13th. “I have some concerns moving forward.”

Aldermen also expressed concern about the contract with the Israeli firm. Evans said they are recognized worldwide as foremost experts in airport security, and the city decided to bring them in to review policies at O’Hare and Midway after terrorist attacks in the past year at airports around the world. But Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, questioned why Evans didn’t consider hiring an American company to do the review.

Twitter @_johnbyrne[6]


  1. ^ United Continental Holdings (
  2. ^ O’Hare International Airport (
  3. ^ Chicago City Hall (
  4. ^ Marty Quinn (
  5. ^

‘Trump effect’ slows illegal US border crossings — but for how long?

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SAN JOSE LAS FLORES, El Salvador – In a different era, Oscar Galvez Serrano might have abandoned his mother s tin-roof shack in the jungly Central American hills by now and set out for the United States. Despite having been deported in March, Galvez said, he would have tried to quickly return to join his 11-year-old son in Sherman, Texas, and his siblings and cousins. He would have taken another job – roofing, landscaping or washing dishes. There is something different now, however, looming over Central Americans decisions on migration: President Donald Trump. Migrants used to feel that if they reached the United States illegally, they could stay. They ve gotten rid of all that, said Galvez, 36. I still hope I can go back there. I just don t know when.

Trump has credited his tough stance on illegal immigrants for the sharp decline in apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, tweeting in March that many are not even trying to come in anymore. In the first four months of the year, U.S. authorities have detained about 98,000 would-be immigrants heading north, a 40 percent drop from the prior year. In El Salvador, which has contributed tens of thousands of border crossers in recent years, potential migrants and officials acknowledge that fewer people are heading to the United States. But they say that the slowdown may be temporary – and that the drop-off may not be as large as it seems. The biggest decline in detentions at the border is for migrants from the Northern Triangle countries – El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala – according to Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Last month, 3,400 people from those countries were apprehended. The previous April, that figure was more than 16,000.

After Trump s election, we saw the drop in crossings almost immediately, McAleenan said, adding that migrants believed that immigration enforcement has strengthened and intensified. Trump has pledged to deport millions of illegal immigrants, build an extensive border wall, and cut funding to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts. Some of Trump s promises, including the border wall, remain in doubt over opposition and budget battles in Congress. But Salvadorans say they are taking their cues from undocumented family members in the United States, who are living in greater fear of deportation. Amid the talk of tougher border enforcement, smugglers have also raised their prices: A trip that once cost $6,000 could now cost as much as $10,000.

Measuring the total flow of migrants is difficult. Figures on border detentions do not tell the whole story, since many migrants evade capture. Starting in 2014, though, hundreds of thousands of Central American families fleeing violence and poverty surged toward the border. Many turned themselves in to the Border Patrol, asking for asylum because of the gang violence in their home countries. Such people were often allowed to live where they chose as they awaited a distant court date in the backlogged U.S. immigration system. These days, more Central American migrants are resorting to sneaking across the border, a change that has contributed to the decline in apprehension numbers, according to U.S. and Salvadoran officials.

This practice of turning themselves into the migration authorities has diminished, said Hector Antonio Rodriguez, the head of El Salvador s migration agency, in an interview. They have lost confidence in the authorities. There is no confidence now to apply for asylum like before. Rodriguez agreed, however, that fewer migrants were making the trip north, as detentions in Mexico – which Central American migrants usually transit to get to the United States – have also fallen significantly this year. He said that this was primarily due to Trump s harsh rhetoric on illegal immigrants.

We don t know what laws have changed. What we do know is what our relatives tell us and how people at the street level are living, said Manuel Flores, 33, a metalworker who was deported in 2009 and has three siblings remaining in the United States. The day Trump took office, they tell us, things changed.

Two of his brothers have canceled plans to build a house in their home town of San Jose Las Flores, in a part of northern El Salvador where villages have sent migrants north for decades. Flores said his brothers did not want to risk a big investment at such a precarious time for migrants without papers. One of them quit a night-shift job because he does not want to be driving when fewer cars are on the road and he would be an easier target for police. On weekends, they now rarely leave the house.

Many people have frozen their plans because of this fear, Flores said. The slowdown in migration could be temporary, officials here say. Migrants and their families are watching closely to see if the Trump administration moves ahead with mass deportations, or carries out its threat to prosecute parents for paying smugglers to bring their children to the United States. But the pressures pushing people north have not disappeared.

People are waiting to see what will happen, said Brendan Forde, a 73-year-old priest who attends to the rural villages in Chalatenango state in northern El Salvador. I don t think the desire has changed.

In recent years, Northern Triangle countries have had some of the highest murder rates in the world, as street gangs such as MS-13 and 18th Street have battled for supremacy. The gangs also have squeezed residents with extortion demands. Since 2015, when there were more than 19,000 killings in the Northern Triangle, homicide rates have been falling in the region. In the first four months of this year, the number of homicides in El Salvador has dropped by about 50 percent compared with the same period last year, amid a government crackdown on gangs. Nonetheless, immigration experts and officials here say that thousands still wish to leave dangerous communities. Now, though, Salvadorans are moving internally, and seeking refuge in other countries, such as Mexico, Costa Rica or Canada.

I don t think there s any reason to believe the displacement has dropped off, said Jeanne Rikers, research director at Foundation Cristosal, a human rights organization in San Salvador.

A growing number of Central American migrants are seeking to stay in Mexico rather than continue the trip to the United States. Between November 2016 and March 2017, more than 5,000 Central Americans filed asylum applications in Mexico, an increase of 150 percent over the same period a year earlier, according to government statistics. At the same time, Central Americans are facing a stricter asylum process in the United States, where they must demonstrate that they would be persecuted if they returned home, according to immigration lawyers and advocates. New guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security in February signal to immigration and border agents to be even more hesitant in determining who has established enough credible fear to gain asylum, Adriana Beltran, a Central America expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and advocacy group, wrote in a report. About 10 asylum seekers per week used to come to Sandra Guevara s office in San Salvador for advice on the U.S. application process. Now, she said, the office sees about one person per week.

It s not necessarily that the [U.S.] laws have changed. What has changed is the way they are applying them, said Guevara, the executive director of COIMSAL, an organization that helps people with legal migration. Now they [U.S. authorities] are being more rigorous.

Despite the Trump effect, many Salvadorans are still determined to get to the United States, where they have extensive family networks and the prospect of work. Pedro Arias Alvarado, a 42-year-old construction worker and security guard, got picked up by authorities in southern Mexico on his way to the United States and sent back to San Salvador this month. He said he had left his home country because the $300 he makes each month does not cover his son s university studies plus his other bills.

Here, unfortunately, the situation we are in is critical, he said, sitting in a processing center for deportees. What we earn is not enough. Arias plans to return to the United States somehow.

I m going to work two or three months to save up, and see if I can travel, he said. I would like to go again.

Security Guard in Waukesha Pulls Gun On Co-Worker To Be ‘Funny’

WAUKESHA, WI Waukesha police had to arrest a security guard in charge of helping to guard the apartment at 322 Maple Ave. after he reportedly pulled a gun and a knife on another security guard because he thought “it would be funny.”

322 Maple Ave. was the apartment structure that caught fire last Saturday. According to the police report, a caller who works for a security company that was guarding the Maple Ave. apartments met another employee in the parking lot Sunday around 11 p.m. when he pointed a black handgun at the woman. She also reported that the same man pulled a knife on her earlier. Police reports indicate the man was located in the Libarary parking lot in his vehicle. Police took him into custody just after midnight.

The Fire

According to City of Waukesha police reports, authorities responded to the apartments at 322 Maple Ave., Unit 214 at 11:12 p.m. Saturday on a report that the rear of the building was on fire.

The third floor balcony was reportedly on fire, and it was spreading. Authorities shut down traffic at Maple and Dunbar as well as on Prospect as crews hurriedly arrived on scene. According to reports, a manager went into unit 214, did a sweep and did not locate anyone. Reports indicated that the unit is where the fire had originated from. By 11:41 p.m. the fire was under control and investigators arrived just after midnight. they were followed by the Red Cross and We Energies.


image via waukesha police department

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