For months now, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has kept a spotlight on Rigoberto Padilla, a 19-year-old University of Illinois-Chicago student who is staring down a December deportation deadline. As the coalition points out, Rigo's situation...
For months now, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has kept a spotlight on Rigoberto Padilla, a 19-year-old University of Illinois-Chicago student who is staring down a December deportation deadline. As the coalition points out, Rigo's situation -- he is facing deportation due to a misdemeanor DUI offense -- perfectly represents the nation's broken immigration system and is a strong reminder of why federal reforms can't wait. From a recent ICIRR statement:
The plight of Rigo illustrates what is wrong with current immigration laws. He came to Chicago at age 6, and has lived in Chicago most of his 21 years. During this time, Rigo has been deeply involved in the community, volunteering, studying, working and in general making Chicago a better place. Nevertheless, he is scheduled for deportation in 16 days. [...]
Rigo is a great kid, an outstanding student, a hardworking young man with many aspirations and dreams to become better and to contribute more to this country, the country he calls home. We cannot allow more lives to be destroyed by an unfair, outdated immigration system that doesn’t reflect our values as a country of opportunity and fairness.
A growing number of Illinois officials agree. On Friday, U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis, and Bobby Rush will stand with various Chicago aldermen and Rev. Jesse Jackson in their latest effort to pressure federal officials to delay his deportation. Schakowsky has also sent a letter of support on Rigo's behalf to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton.
As we've pointed out before, the prospects for undocumented students are slowly growing brighter. When Congress takes up immigration reform next year, Sen. Dick Durbin's DREAM Act will likely be included in the package. Under that measure, young adults like Rigo who've spent most of their lives in the U.S. would be allowed to remain in the U.S. legally so long as they enroll in college or enlist in the military. With the measure hopefully coming up for consideration soon, ICIRR and its allies are calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt the deportation of qualifying students in the interim.