More than 100 people were given citations for blocking traffic Wednesday night as a massive immigration reform rally interrupted traffic at the Clark Street and Congress Parkway intersection, near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters building in Chicago. Progress Illinois was there for the action.
More than 100 people were given citations for blocking traffic Wednesday night as a massive immigration reform rally interrupted traffic at the Clark Street and Congress Parkway intersection, near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters building in Chicago.
More than 200 people attended the rally and chanted “two million, too many,” while calling on President Barack Obama to end deportations. The protesters also demanded that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) bring immigration reform legislation up for a vote in his chamber.
“I want to ask my speaker, my speaker, Speaker John Boehner, to give us a vote on a humane comprehensive immigration bill. Speaker Boehner, you can do it,” said U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D, IL-7), who attended the protest. “I also want to ask my president, the honorable Barack Obama, please stop deportations of all of these families who are being broken.”
More than 400,000 people were deported in fiscal year 2012, which is a record high for the nation. That amounts to more than 1,100 deportations each day. If deportation rates continue at their current pace, some 2 million people will have been deported by 2014 under the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, immigration reform legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants has been passed in the Senate, but has yet to be taken up by the House.
“Today we are blocking Congress Parkway, because Congress is blocking our way, because Congress is blocking our families,” said Fr. Brendan Curran, pastor at St. Pius V Parish, a member of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), which organized the protest. "Stop playing politics, stop messing with our families, we are being destroyed and enough is enough. Stop deportations!”
Curran was one of 121 people to stage a peaceful sit-in at the busy South Loop intersection, before the protesters were removed by the Chicago Police Department and ticketed for blocking traffic. Traffic was halted for nearly an hour but there were no arrests.
“We’re trying to send a strong message to Congress, enough is enough,” said Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), moments before he was escorted out of the intersection and issued a citation. “We need the president to think about the families that are being affected by deportations.”
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Alds. Joe Moreno (1st), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Danny Solis (25th) and Rey Colon (35th) were also ticketed for participating in the sit-in.
“It’s important to make a statement to the folks in Washington,” said Colon. “I’m nervous about [immigration reform], I’ve seen the way government has been working lately, and there’s reason to be nervous.”
Here’s more from the protest:
Introduced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-12), the House Democrat’s immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, has 186 Democratic co-sponsors, but faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled chamber. Just three Republicans, U.S. Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, have co-sponsored the legislation.
The bill is nearly identical to the bipartisan immigration reform package passed by the Senate in June, but Republican House leaders, who previously rebuffed the Senate’s bill, have not acted on either piece of legislation. GOP leaders are instead taking a piecemeal approach to immigration reform legislation.
“This is tough, the Republican leadership has blocked immigration reform, budgets and we’ve even seen them block votes on basic legislation,” said Davis, a co-sponsor of the House bill, in an interview with Progress Illinois. “I’m cautiously optimistic that it might happen ... People want a vote, and I think the votes are there if there is a voting opportunity.”
Here’s more from Davis and other immigration reform supporters who spoke outside of ICE headquarters in Chicago:
Meanwhile, Karina Magdaleno, 32, a mother of three who came to the U.S. from Mexico more than 14 years ago, faces deportation in January after she was caught driving without a license in August.
“This is a nightmare,” she said, adding that her U.S.-born children, ages one, seven and nine, may have to live in a foster home if she is forced to leave the country. “I don’t have a house or anything over there, if I get deported I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Magdaleno is seeking help from the West Suburban Action Project (Proyecto de Accion de los Suburbios del Oeste, PASO) and a lawyer.
“There are millions of families being separated and have to leave their children here. We all need President Obama to stop deportations,” she said. “I’m asking all of the Republicans to give us a vote, and support immigration reform.”