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Mom facing deportation treated fairly, South Holland police say


Susana Chinchilla

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:24AM

An El Salvadorian mom facing imminent deportation was not unfairly treated, as immigration rights activists have suggested, South Holland police say.

Activists fighting the controversial federal Secure Communities program — which mandates that police share arrestees’ fingerprints with immigration officials — on Tuesday presented Susana Chinchilla’s case as an example of how they say illegal immigrants now face an increased risk of deportation even if they commit only petty traffic offenses.

But South Holland Police Chief Warren Millsaps said his department had no choice but to arrest the 33-year-old following a traffic stop on Nov. 23, because there was a federal warrant for her arrest.

Chinchilla was caught illegally entering the country on the East Coast, Millsaps said. When she was given 30 days to find care for her 4-year-old son, she skipped a hearing at which she would have been deported and fled to the Chicago area, and then the warrant was issued, he said.

Chinchilla and her supporters had suggested that South Holland Police chose to refer her case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement even though they weren’t required to.

But Millsaps said it was routine to check for warrants following a traffic stop, adding, “If we hadn’t acted on it, it would have been obstruction of justice.”

He said he had reviewed a video of the arrest and “you couldn’t find a more professional traffic stop.”

Activist Emma Lozano Thursday acknowledged that there may have been inaccuracies in the original account of Chinchilla’s case.

But she said it remained the case that Chinchilla, who faces deportation later this month, “is no threat to this country.”

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