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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Oct 2, 2013

House Dems Introduce Immigration Reform Bill, Call Republicans To Negotiating Table

In the midst of a government shutdown, House Democrats on Wednesday introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that creates a pathway to citizenship for America's more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The bill, introduced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 12) and other Democratic co-sponsors, is nearly identical to the bipartisan immigration reform package passed by the Senate in June.

Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), said he believes the bill is the direct result of advocates across the country fighting for reform. Benito noted that 160 immigration-related rallies in cities across the country are planned for this weekend to keep up the pressure.

"They're doing what we asked them to do, which is put forward their bill," Benito told Progress Illinois. "We think it's progress in the right direction. It's not perfect, but we believe it's an opportunity for bipartisan negotiations to get the job done." Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Sep 25, 2013

Local Organizations Push For Increased Civic Engagement On National Voter Registration Day (VIDEO)

With the 2014 general election just 13 months away and voter registration numbers at an all-time low, hundreds of volunteers took to Chicagoland streets Tuesday to mark National Voter Registration Day in an effort to get as many new voters on the rolls as possible.

“Election after election, millions of voters aren’t able to vote because they miss voter registration deadlines or they didn’t know how to register,” said Rebecca Reynolds, 28, executive director of Chicago Votes. “This day is a day to try to make sure we leave no one out.”

Chicago Votes, a volunteer-run civic engagement advocacy group, served as Illinois’ lead organization on Tuesday’s national day of action to increase voter registration. More than 40 local groups, including the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, partnered with Chicago Votes to encourage residents to exercise their basic right to vote.

“Voter registration has hit an all-time low in the city of Chicago,” said Reynolds. “We’re trying to make voter registration easier, and more accessible to everybody.” Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Sep 9, 2013

Foster Introduces Bill To Crack Down On Deceptive Immigration Consultants

U.S. Congressmen Bill Foster (D, IL-11) and Ted Deutch (D, FL-21) want immigrants protected from fraudulent and unethical legal representation.

The two representatives introduced the Protecting Immigrants from Legal Exploitation Act in the House this summer, which would impose stiff penalties on “notarios”, or immigration consultants, who deliberately provide immigrants with deceitful services.

Immigrant victims who have been scammed by notarios can permanently miss out on their opportunity for legal status. In many instances, these dishonest services have resulted in the deportation of immigrants who might have been eligible for legal status, Foster said when talking to reporters about the issue.

“These immigrants were just trying to follow the letter of the law," Foster stressed. "We should not be punishing people who are making a good-faith effort to play by the rules just because they have become victims of fraud."

Read more »

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
Tue Sep 3, 2013

Activists Strategize After Senate Immigration Reform Bill Alienates Blacks, LGBT Community

Activists from the African and LGBT communities joined forces to hold a teach-in Saturday to discuss how efforts to overhaul U.S. immigration policy negatively affect their communities.

At issue are the diversity visa lottery program and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Both programs provided a legal pathway for Africans and foreign-born gay spouses to come to the U.S. But the U.S. Senate bill eliminates the diversity visa program when it passed its version of the immigration bill back in June, and the UAFA was cut from the legislation.

Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Service (ACS), said the Senate could have passed “a really good bill” if it did not throw a lot of people under the bus, including the LGBT community. ACS is a social justice organization advocating for the Black LGBTQ community.

Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Aug 21, 2013

Roskam Gets Targeted By Activists For 'Standing In The Way' Of Immigration, Health Care Reform (VIDEO)

While U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R, IL-6) attended a town hall meeting in Naperville on Wednesday, a group of protesters, upset with the congressman’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and several immigration reform proposals, held a demonstration outside.

Roskam, the protesters allege, has not offered any concrete solutions to fix the nation’s broken immigration and health care systems, but instead has only blocked solutions based on partisanship.

“Democracy can’t survive on just standing in the way,” said John Gaudette, organizing director for Citizen Action Illinois, who helped organize the protest. “If he’s taking the opposing stance, he needs to tell us what works and come up with an alternative plan.” Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri Aug 16, 2013

Immigration Reformers Deliver Half Cake To Lipinski On DACA's 1st Anniversary: 'The Job Is Only Half Done' (VIDEO)

Deferred deportation for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age began one year ago, on August 15, 2012. But a group of immigration activists say it’s not enough, adding that Congress needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“The job is only half done,” said Ana Padilla, 27, an immigration organizer with Gamaliel of Metro Chicago. “It’s not permanent and there’s still a lot of instability.” Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Aug 12, 2013

Activists Demand Justice For Uninsured Immigrants In Need Of Organ Transplants

Immigrants in need of organ transplants and their allies have occupied the public space in front of Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The occupation began Sunday evening following the Friday death of Sarai Rodriguez, 25, an uninsured and undocumented Chicago immigrant originally from Mexico who was in critical need of a new liver.

Rodriguez’s family and dozens of activists held a remembrance ceremony outside Northwestern Sunday evening and camped out overnight. The occupation will continue through Monday, the group said.

Read more »