VIPR Team Conducts Bag Checks in Chicago

February 14, 2017 Some Chicago CTA Red Line customers received an unhappy Valentines Day surprise Tuesday morning.

CTA riders expressed fear and confusion after encountering a security checkpoint—which included bag checks and U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel—at the Addison Street Red Line stop on Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department confirmed the DHS presence at the CTA Addison Red Line stop on Tuesday. Similar checks took place on February 8, at Merchandise Mart, and February 10, at Clark and Lake, according to police.

Some CTA riders took to Twitter to report the incident, saying that
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took part in Tuesday’s Red Line stop searches and were targeting people of Hispanic and Middle Eastern descent. ICE spokeswoman, Gail Montenegro denied the agency was involved with checks at CTA stations on Tuesday.

Since the announcement of
President Trump’s controversial immigration ban, undocumented immigrants and their families and friends have been living in fear of raids.

VIPR teams may include Federal Air Marshals, explosive-detection canine teams, Aviation Security Inspectors, and Transportation Security Officers, CBP, ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies.

In recent years, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s controversial TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention Response (VIPR) teams have been reported in cites across the country. Since 2010, VIPR teams have increasingly been spotted on buses, trains, ships, ferries, subways, and highways across the nation.

Following a VIPR operation in Tampa, Florida in 2010, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent admitted to targeting illegal immigrants. Customs and Border Patrol and ICE agents in Iowa, California and several other states have been accused of racial profiling.

Since its inception in 2004, the VIPR program has grown from one team to more than 30, with an annual budget of over $100 million in taxpayer dollars. As the number and scope of VIPR operations have grown, so has the controversy surrounding their deployment.

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