Illinois Latinos criticize plan to rename school after 'deporter-in-chief' Obama

Families in Waukegan attack Obama’s record on deportation and say using his name would be ‘painful for the community’

Plans to rename an Illinois school after Barack Obama have run into a protest from local members of the Latino community who are angry about the former president’s record on the issue of deportation.

Leaders and members of the Waukegan Latino community are pushing back against a local school board’s proposal to rename the city’s Thomas Jefferson middle school, according to WGN Chicago.

Waukegan is a city just north of Chicago with a population that is more than 50% Latino.

The move to change the school’s name stems from the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner, and echoes similar proposals across the country in the wake of a racial reckoning caused by Black Lives Matter protests. Opposition to naming this school after Obama stems from the deportation of 5 million people during his presidency, most of whom were Latino.

“Today, I want to urge the board to drop the names of Barack and Michelle Obama from consideration,” Oscar Arias, a graduate of Waukegan public schools and city resident, told the city’s school board Tuesday night. “Barack Obama’s presidency is filled with hostility against the immigrant community.”

Before the school board meeting, a press release sent to media outlets by those opposed to the group said that Obama is thought of as “deporter-in-chief” among the Latino community.

“Back in 2015, Obama had overseen more than 2.5 million deportations, far more than any previous president in our history,” the press release said. “Obama had the reputation for using Congress as an excuse, saying that Congress tied his hands and that he could not reduce the number of people being deported.”

Families in Waukegan were destroyed amid raids and other immigration enforcement actions, the release stated.

“Those children live in the reality of insecurity in mixed-status families,” Waukegan resident Julie Contreras said. “For us, having the deporter-in-chief’s name is painful for the community.”

Migration Policy Institute data indicate that Bill Clinton and George W Bush deported 12 million and 10 million people respectively. While total deportations were higher in the Bush and Clinton administrations, there were more removals from the US interior under Obama, 3m compared to Bush’s 2 million and Clinton’s nearly 900,000, the Institute’s numbers show.

WGN reports that it will be at least one month before the school board announces a final decision on this school’s name.


Victoria Bekiempis

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
President Obama: deporter-in-chief | Michael Paarlberg

Michael Paarlberg: Deportations are at record levels, and Obama says he's not responsible. It's not true, and it won't sell Congress on reform

Michael Paarlberg

06, Dec, 2013 @3:45 PM

Article image
Latinos loyal to Obama despite anger over president's immigration record

Research shows Latino voters continue to favour Obama over GOP candidates in spite of policy of deporting illegal immigrants

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

28, Dec, 2011 @7:00 PM

Article image
Rogue Illinois governor Blagojevich names Obama Senate successor
Democratic embarrassment deepens as Blagojevich defied his own party and appointed a successor to Barack Obama's vacant US Senate seat

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

30, Dec, 2008 @11:25 PM

Obama staff to release report of contacts with Illinois governor

Report is an effort to quell speculation that president-elect's team is involved in scandal surrounding Rod Blagojevich

Daniel Nasaw

23, Dec, 2008 @3:35 PM

Article image
Illinois city approves first reparations program for Black residents
A $400,000 housing grant with guaranteed funding in Evanston is first such initiative to tackle legacy of slavery

Jewel Wicker

23, Mar, 2021 @3:03 PM

Article image
Ice takes heat for deportation plan | Daniel Denvir

Daniel Denvir: Once again, the Obama administration's immigration policy is in disarray after agency officials obfuscated over deportation rules

Daniel Denvir

06, Jun, 2011 @7:30 PM

Article image
Asian American history to be taught in all Illinois public schools
State will be first in US to ensure students learn about Asian Americans’ contributions to the nation’s culture and history

Sarah Betancourt

13, Jul, 2021 @3:03 PM

Article image
Texas Latinos greet court date for 'show me your papers' SB4 immigration law
A federal judge will hear arguments to decide whether harsh anti-sanctuary cities law will take effect in September. The Trump White House is watching

Tom Dart in Dallas

26, Jun, 2017 @9:00 AM

Video: 'A sad day for Illinois'

President-elect Barack Obama has distanced himself from the Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who has been arrested on corruption charges

10, Dec, 2008 @10:29 AM

Article image
Rod Blagojevich names Roland Burris as replacement for Barack Obama in Illinois Senate seat

Democratic anger and embarassment in the debacle over Barack Obama's vacant US Senate seat deepens as disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich names 71-year-old former Illinois attorney-general to replace Obama

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

30, Dec, 2008 @8:38 PM