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Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
Tue Jun 11, 2013

Kirk Votes Against Debate On Senate Immigration Reform Bill

U.S. Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) was one of 15 senators who voted against discussion of the chamber's bipartisan immigration reform bill. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act Of 2013, SB 744, was drafted by the Senate's Gang of Eight, which includes U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. The bill was filed back in April. 

The legislation creates a pathway to citizenship for the nation's more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who meet certain mandates and pay fines, after a five- or 10-year wait. The pathway to citizenship is also dependent on the nation meeting certain border security benchmarks. But some Republicans are calling for even more stringent border security provisions. Kirk, for example, says he would like to see the more aggressive border security provisions outlined in an amendment by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) included in the bill before he could sign on to the legislation.

"I’ve always said border security first, and I actually mean that procedurally,” Kirk told Politico following the vote. “If [the] Cornyn [amendment] can pass, then that opens the door for me.”  

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Jun 7, 2013

House Amendment Could Lead To Deportation of DREAMers, Immigrant Advocates Say

The U.S. House passed an amendment Thursday that looks to cut off funding necessary for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications.

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is the main sponsor of the amendment, which would be attached to the larger 2014 Department of Homeland Security spending bill. 

The amendment passed the full House by a 224-201 vote. No Illinois House Republicans voted against the measure.

Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), said King "is probably the most anti-immigrant congressman in the country."

"For people to align themselves with him and his drastic view on immigration, particularly in a time when Republicans simply just need to remember what happened last November, they are going to be an extinct party if they continue with this level of anti-immigrant behavior," he stressed.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri May 31, 2013

As U.S. House Works On Immigration Reform Bill, Health Care Remains An Area Of Contention (VIDEO)

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D, IL-4) said one of the most challenging aspects of comprehensive immigration reform is providing health care to America’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, without spending taxpayer dollars.

“We have to figure out how to keep (undocumented immigrants) healthy, how to make sure they continue to get medical treatment and don’t become a charge [to taxpayers],” he said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu May 30, 2013

Struggling Small Business Owners Seek Help From Cook County Commissioners

Chicago small business owners and Northwest Side residents say local businesses are dying off, and they need Cook County officials to intervene. 

"We, of course, have been slaughtered in the recession in the last four to five years," said Mark Thomas, owner of The Alley Chicago, at a Cook County economic development forum Thursday morning.

Thomas told Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioners Edwin Reyes (8th) and John Fritchey (12th) that landlords should see some sort of tax incentive to encourage them to rent space to local businesses rather than chain stores.

Elise Doody-Jones, a small business owner in Logan Square, added that rents are too expensive. The high rents are a burden for neighborhood businesses and can often discourage small business owners to set up shop, she said.

Larger corporations generally do not move their businesses into communities until they feel the demographics and income levels are right, she explained.

"It's really the small businesses who run on a shoestring that step in," she said. "But the rents are too high because the property taxes are too high." 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed May 29, 2013

Protesters Call On Obama To Reject Keystone Pipeline, Stop Deportations (VIDEO)

Environmentalists and comprehensive immigration reform advocates protested outside Chicago's Downtown Hilton where President Barack Obama and other key political leaders attended a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Wednesday evening.

Activists called upon Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants and reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, among other issues.

Yesenia Najera, 11, a leader of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, said her father was deported earlier this month.

"It is not fair," she said. "My dad is a good person and will always care for me and my brother and sister."

No other child should have to endure that kind of pain, she said.

Najera had one question for Obama.

"Will you stand for immigration families, and stop all deportation until immigration reform passes," she asked. "Not one more. Not one more."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed May 29, 2013

Undocumented Military Students Call For Immigration Reform: 'All I Want To Do Is Serve This Country' (VIDEO)

Alejandro Morales has dreams of becoming the Marines’ first Latino commandant. But, having been carried across the border at only seven months old, Morales is an undocumented immigrant and thus cannot enlist in the military.

“I grew up here this is all I know, I’m Mexican and I’m proud of that, but I’m also an American,” said the 19 year-old graduate of Chicago’s Marine Military Math and Science Academy

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri May 24, 2013

Durbin, Foster Discuss Immigration Reform's Economic Impact At Chamber Of Commerce Talk (VIDEO)

Comprehensive immigration reform is an important factor in America’s job creation and economic growth, according to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D, IL-11).

“I say to the workers in the United States today ... You are competing with an undocumented worker who goes to work and is paid less than a minimum wage ... They are able to undercut other workers in America just by virtue of the fact that they’re working under the counter,” said Durbin. “They’re all going to come up above the counter now, everybody will be held to the same legal standards.”