Chicago aldermen and immigrant advocates unveiled a list of proposals Tuesday aimed at improving the lives of immigrants across the city.
Issues of language access, legal representation, safety and services for immigrants are addressed in the Chicago Immigration Policy Working Group's six-point immigrant integration plan.
The newly-formed working group is comprised of three Chicago council members, Alds. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), and 14 leading immigrant advocacy organizations such as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Latino Policy Forum and the National Immigrant Justice Center.
"Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that he is committed to making Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the United States," Ramirez-Rosa said at a Tuesday press conference. "As the Chicago Immigration Working Group, we share that commitment, and we're excited to get to work alongside the mayor to fulfill that goal."
Immigration reform supporters gathered for a viewing party of President Barack Obama's executive order speech on Friday in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.
"We're not a nation that kicks out strivers and dreamers who want to earn their piece of the American dream," Obama said during his speech at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. "We didn't raise the Statute of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a staunch proponent of immigration reform and one of about two dozen attendees at the Casa Michoacan viewing party, said "history is being made."
As President Barack Obama weighs executive actions on immigration issues, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) is calling on the Department of Defense to allow young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers to serve in the military.
In 2012, Obama set up the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants a two-year protection against deportation for DREAMers, or immigrants who came to the United States as young children prior to June of 2007. The program lets the immigrants work in the country legally, for example, but it does not provide them with a pathway to citizenship or allow them to join the U.S. Armed Forces.
"To qualify for a DACA exemption, applicants must undergo background checks and finish high school," Foster said at a press conference Friday morning in Washington, D.C. "It is simply bad policy to turn away these young men and women while we struggle to find qualified Americans who are able and willing to serve. And it is morally reprehensible to deny these patriotic young men and women the opportunity to serve the country they love."
U.S. House passed an amendment Thursday that looks to cut off funding
necessary for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications.
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is the main sponsor of the amendment, which would be attached to the larger 2014 Department of Homeland Security spending bill.
The amendment passed the full House by a 224-201 vote. No Illinois House Republicans voted against the measure.
Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
(ICIRR), said King "is probably the most anti-immigrant congressman in
"For people to align themselves with him and his
drastic view on immigration, particularly in a time when Republicans
simply just need to remember what happened last November, they are going
to be an extinct party if they continue with this level of
anti-immigrant behavior," he stressed.
Upon further review, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is,
in fact, basically against President Barack Obama’s deferred action
program intended to let some undocumented immigrants avoid deportation.
Romney told the Denver Post
Monday that if he won the presidency the candidate would not revoke
deportation exemptions already granted by the Obama administration.
Romney did not say to the Post if he would continue the program.
However, Romney clarified in comments to the Boston Globe yesterday that he would end deferred action upon taking office in January 2013, if elected.
the political outcome of Romney’s statements, the policy
outcome is clear: Ending deferred action a few months after it started
would render the program mostly ineffective.
The Obama administration's deferred action program, which is intended
to let undocumented immigrants age 30 and under avoid deportation, is
just getting started amid concerns the initiative could abruptly end if
Republican nominee Mitt Romney wins the presidency.
Rivlin, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago), a consistent
national voice on immigration policy, acknowledges that program
applications have “taken more time per applicant” than initially
anticipated. “It takes a while to fill out the application and get all
the documents you need,” Rivlin says.