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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:37pm
Thu Mar 20, 2014

Chicago's Food Deserts Are A 'Civil Rights Issue', Experts Say

While the population of food deserts may have arguably decreased over recent years in Chicago, a number of obstacles still remain when it comes to expanding access to healthy foods in the city, according to panelists who discussed the topic Thursday afternoon.

The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hosted the talk in Chicago to hear from public, private and non-profit leaders who work on food access issues. Back in 2011, the committee issued its own report about Chicago food deserts, a problem it says must be addressed as a civil rights issue.

Food deserts are communities that lack healthy, fresh food options. In Chicago, African-American and Latino communities tend to face the greatest food access challenges. The Emanuel administration has worked to expand food access by bringing in new grocery stores, additional farmers markets and more produce carts, among other efforts.

But panelists at the discussion, held at Kennedy-King College on Chicago's South Side, noted that poverty and high prices for healthy foods are big barriers standing in the way of eliminating food deserts. 

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
11:55am
Thu Mar 20, 2014

Lawmakers & Activists Call For An End To Deportations, Comprehensive Immigration Reform (VIDEO)

A 12 year-old girl from Kansas City travelled to Chicago on Wednesday to ask Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials why her father was “expeditiously” deported to Mexico in January.

“I just want my dad to come home,” said Nayelly Sandoval, whose father, Josue Sandoval, was deported to Mexico City on January 31 after living in the U.S. for more than 16 years as an undocumented immigrant.

Sandoval was arrested while he was working at a metal scrap yard in Kansas City and was deported about two weeks later, Nayelly said, adding that her father doesn’t have a criminal record.

Backed by immigration reform advocates, Nayelly visited the office of Ricardo Wong, director of ICE’s Chicago Field Office, on Wednesday with hopes that he would meet with her and investigate the circumstances of her father’s deportation. 

She says her father should not have been classified as “high priority” and alleges that ICE officials did not exercise prosecutorial discretion. Wong’s signature, Nayelly claims, appeared on her father’s deportation order.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
12:14pm
Tue Mar 18, 2014

Durbin, Foster Discuss Immigration Reform, Needs Of Hispanic Business Owners (VIDEO)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D, IL-11) met with a group of Hispanic business leaders in Joliet on Monday to discuss how the federal government can better support minority business owners and, subsequently, the community at large.

Passing immigration reform, both elected officials agreed, is the single-most important thing Congress can to do benefit the Hispanic community and its business leaders.

By providing a streamlined path to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, the country would see significant economic growth, including increases in tax revenues and jobs, Durbin and Foster both said.

“(Immigration reform) takes the fear out of the lives of those who are here undocumented," Durbin said. "It gives them a chance to get legal status and it fixes this broken immigration system. It died in the House, it’s just been sitting there for almost a year now. That’s just awful.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:49pm
Tue Feb 18, 2014

Illinois Elected Officials Discuss The Benefits Of Passing Immigration Reform (VIDEO)

Immigration reform is not dead, according to a group of elected officials who on Tuesday met in Chicago to discuss the benefits of providing a streamlined path to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“So many people in America feel that comprehensive immigration reform is dead, that somehow it doesn’t have any possibility of being enacted into law. And I think, if anything, our presence here on this panel this morning, says that it’s alive and well,” said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D, IL-4). “The conversation is continuing.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:34pm
Thu Feb 13, 2014

Gutierrez Presses Military About Enlistment Policies For Citizens With Undocumented Dependents

U.S. Congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-IL,4) and Mike Coffman (R-CO,6) are calling on military officials to promptly investigate whether U.S. citizens with undocumented immigrant family members are being barred from enlisting in branches of the Armed Forces.

The two congressmen on Wednesday sent a letter to the secretaries of the Air Force, Army and Navy, urging them to finish a review of the U.S. Armed Services' enlistment policies. 

The congressmen, along with 31 other House members, first requested answers about possible exclusionary enlistment rules in a letter they sent to the secretaries on November 21. Illinois Democratic Reps. Bill Foster (11), Mike Quigley (5) and Jan Schakowsky (9) signed on to that letter.

The bipartisan group of 33 congressmen raised concerns about the issue following reports of military recruiters rejecting enlistments from U.S. citizens with spouses and children living illegally in the country.

"There is no reason I can think of why any branch of the military should restrict the military service of individuals based on the immigration status of someone else in their family. None," Gutierrez, chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in November. "I want to know where this is happening, why and what is being done to fix it."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:26pm
Wed Feb 5, 2014

Chicago City Council Roundup: Aldermen OK $1.9 Billion In Borrowing; Ervin Wants A State Rep. To Resign

Progress Illinois provides a recap of Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

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