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CTA: Bag Checks Are Not Related To Immigration

By Stephen Gossett in News on Feb 15, 2017 11:53PM

Red Line, photo via Chicagoist Flickr Pool User Tripp

The CTA on Wednesday addressed rumors of immigration-related searches and Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity at train stations, unequivocally rejecting such claims.

“We want to be very clear that there have been NO incidences of ID checkpoints for purposes of verifying immigration status anywhere on CTA by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service (nor any other agency) on our system,” CTA said in a statement.

“We do not participate in or support this type of activity,” the CTA added.

A bag check at the Addison Red Line stop on Tuesday left some commuters confused and concerned. But ICE confirmed to Chicagoist on Tuesday that the agency was not involved in the bag check. The bag checks on the Red Line were part of a Mobile Explosives Screening Team operation, a terrorism-deterrence program that has been in operation since 2014 and which frequently enlists Homeland Security personnel to assist local police in such checks. A similar program was challenged in court by the ACLU in New York City when it was launched in 2005, but a judge ruled that the checks do not violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, in part because people can decline the search—although if a search is declined the person is not allowed to board the train.

Even after the CTA’s statement, some slight confusion persisted about ID checks, but the CTA addressed that as well. The CTA may check special fare cards as separate effort to “help prevent fraudulent use" and "only involve verifying that the person who has used a special fare card is rightful cardholder,” the transit agency said. Those fare card checks can happen when a rider uses cards such as a UPass or RTA Reduced Fare Permit. That fraud check has also been in place since 2014.

The CTA's full statement is below:

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights also endorsed a a guide written by DRUM on how to responsibly share reports of immigration raids.