CHICAGO — As the heated debate over immigration continues, U.S. Customs and Border Protection held its Trade Symposium at the Marriott Marquis Chicago in the South Loop.
About 100 immigration activists were demonstrating outside the event Tuesday, with a heightened police presence to facilitate a peaceful protest.
Far more people were inside for a conference said to be focused on business and trade. Nearly 1,000 government workers and trade industry professionals are attending this symposium over the next two days. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was the keynote speaker.
The Customs and Border Protection event is taking place despite activists demanding the Marriott Marquis Chicago cancel it. Protesters claim CBP and ICE are terrorizing immigrants, and the Marriott is a collaborator.
"In reality, they are cooperating with this agency, they are cooperating with all the horrors at the border and detention centers," Ava Garcia, immigration rights activist, said.
"Right now, our focus is Marriot, to boycott Marriott, keep up pressure, make sure they never host this again," Mansi Kathuria, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, said.
Mayor Lightfoot had also asked the Marriott to cancel or move the event out of Chicago, a known sanctuary city.
In a statement, the Marriott said it has a “welcome all” policy and they take no position on the views of any guests who hold functions at their hotels.
CBP stresses this is a trade symposium, and that’s what attendees are here for.
The conference runs until Wednesday. No more protests are expected.