More Than 1,200 Join Sen. Durbin at “Rally for America” to Call for Immigration Reform Now
Rally pushes Senate to introduce bipartisan bill by end of April
CHICAGO – Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined local elected officials and more than 1,200 immigrant leaders, advocates and allies today to Rally for America. The rally is part of a movement across the country to push the U.S. Senate to introduce a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill by April 30.
“Comprehensive immigration reform should not be a partisan issue—it is good for our economy, for businesses, for workers and for families,” said Juan Salgado, President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights. “Our broken immigration system is holding back our economy and our country. Congress can’t wait any longer to pass urgent common-sense solutions.”
Participants at the event included families affected by the broken system. They stressed the importance of family unity. Ying Liu Zhen, a student at UIC, talked about the sadness her family experiences because they are separated from her brother. They have been waiting for 5 years to reunite with him, but under the current immigration laws the process could take up to 15 years. “My brother feels very lonely in China, without us. We are afraid that this long-term separation will hurt our relationship.”
Growing bipartisan momentum in Illinois and across the country is pushing Congress to act now to fix our broken immigrations system. Business leaders, faith communities, labor unions, law enforcement officials and immigrants are calling for a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill to strengthen our economy and support families.
Today’s rally culminated a week of broadening support for Congressional action—including the launch Thursday of a newly formed alliance of more than 200 Illinois businesses that support comprehensive immigration reform.
“With an expected $1.5 trillion in economic gains at stake, businesses cannot wait any longer for Congress to pass immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented families,” said Billy Lawless, small business owner and board member of the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “Small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and we need the economic stimulus immigration reform would generate now.”
Adding to the growing support for immigration reform in the business community, conservative faith leaders are increasingly coming out in support of an immigration reform that protects families and respects moral principles. The National Association of Evangelicals supports comprehensive immigration reform, and this past Friday evangelical pastors in West Chicago held a roundtable to discuss the moral importance of immigration reform.
“As more and more faith leaders see how our current immigration system is tearing families apart, even within their own congregations, they can no longer remain silent about the immorality of separating children from their parents,” said Pastor Jose Walter Bohorquez, who is himself in process of deportation. “Our immigration system is inhumane and must be fixed now.”
Problems with our immigration system also make us less safe, according to law enforcement officials. With so much at risk, undocumented immigrants often avoid reporting crimes for fear that they will be exposed, deported and separated from their families.
“Illinois’ law enforcement needs common sense immigration policies that provide a way for immigrants to feel safe to interact with police,” said Chief Patrick J. O'Connor, President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. “Immigrants should feel confident that they can call on police to report crimes and help prosecute those who are harming them and their neighbors.”
Participants in the rally pledged to hold members of Congress to their promises to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. After the rally, a celebration took place with many of the bus riders who participated in the March for America in D.C. on March 21st.
“Dozens of youth leaders participated in the March for America so we can win immigration reform for ourselves and our families,” said Reyna Wences, from the Youth Immigrant Justice League. “Senator Durbin has been such a great leader on the Dream Act and we are really glad that he is here today to pledge his support for bipartisan immigration reform.
“Every day Congress waits to pass immigration reform, more damage is done to our economy, our communities and our families,” said Raul Raymundo, executive director of The Resurrection Project and ICIRR board member. “Congress must act now--or else supporters of immigration reform will hold elected leaders accountable on Election Day.”
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.
For more information, visit ICIRR’s website at www.icirr.org