Immigration advocates representing Latino, Asian, Polish, African, Arab, and Muslim communities went down to Springfield to lobby for two key bills that are on deck: the Smart Enforcement Act and the Illinois DREAM Act.
The suburbanization of Latinos in Chicagoland has been one of the
much-discussed elements to the legislative remap process now under way in the
General Assembly, and some new data released demonstrate the
specifics of the trend. According to the Illinois Coalition for
Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), of the 10 state Senate districts
with the largest percentage increases in Latinos, eight are entirely
or partially in the Chicago suburbs, with the remaining two located in the
central part of the state. These districts also also have seen big jumps in Asian residents over the last 10 years.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez isn't going away. He recently kicked off a 20-city tour to make sure the White House keeps its promise of enacting immigration reform. The move comes as President Obama faces serious challenges both at home and abroad on several fronts -- the ongoing budget talks with Congressional Republicans, continued strikes in Libya, while the military is already fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the beginning of the 2012 re-election campaign.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is attempting to rebrand itself, but the PR campaign is being met with skepticism in Chicago. The Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights called the plan a "desperate response by a rogue agency that is destroying thousands of families a week to fix its image among immigrants" and said it amounted to nothing more than "trying to put lipstick on a very ugly pig."
It's ironic that a pregnant Susana Chinchilla was turned away from
the Thompson Center because she didn't have a valid I.D.
Chinchilla, a Salvadoran who is facing deportation, was supposed to speak at a press conference in
the 15th floor Blue Room to support an upcoming
bill that will reform the controversial "Secure Communities" federal immigration program. But Chinchilla never got upstairs. She is a mom from South Holland who was arrested for allegedly running a stop sign on her way to buy medicine for her sick 3-year-old son who is a
The 2010 Census numbers showing that the Latino population growth in Chicago was 3.3 percent has left many scratching their heads. Anyone who has lived in the city over the last decade cannot help but notice the influx -- and influence -- of Latinos in Chicago neighborhoods; making the Census' findings of merely 3 percent growth in the Latino population seem questionable.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is crediting some state lawmakers for quashing 10 pieces of legislation they say are now off the table in the General Assembly. Among the bills in question are HB 1969, a proposed law similar to the controversial Arizona measure that requires police officers question anyone they "reasonably suspect" of being undocumented; severalattempts to exclude undocumented immigrant children from the state's AllKids health care program; HB 2791, a bill that would have required voters to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote; and HB 306, legislation that would have allowed the state and local authorities to release people in their custody to federal authorities for deportation.
Chicago's Daley Plaza was the site of raw emotion and deep frustration. A large crowd of young people holding signs, banners, and American flags, gathered to hear undocumented youths from around Chicagoland talk about what it's like living without immigration papers during the launch of the National Coming Out Week, which will see undocumented youth declare their status in states across the country.
The speakers yesterday afternoon said they were brought to the U.S. when they were very young -- one came when she was six, another when he was just one year old -- by their parents from Mexico, Kuwait, the Phillipines, and other countries. The DREAM Act, which failed to make it through the last Congress and was blocked in the 2010 lame duck session by a GOP filibuster, would have offered a path for undocumented youth to regularize their status. That's simply not available right now, and the result is fear of deportation, and worries about paying for college and finding jobs. Take a look at some of the testimony:
Tania Unzueta, who helped organize the speak-out with the Immigrant Youth Justice League, said the assumption is that no immigration legislation will advance out of the politically divided Congress for at least the next two years. Immigrant youth, she said, will use that time to build up their communities and organizations.