Rights Leaders Launch ‘We Are Illinois’

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

A non-partisan campaign launched this past weekend to mobilize and integrate the immigrant community during this election season.

Immigrant leaders and elected officials introduced “We Are Illinois” campaign at Erie Neighborhood House on Saturday to increase voter registration. “Naturalized citizen voters hold the balance of power in many federal and state districts with close races,” said ICIRR Lawrence Benito at the press conference. “With so much at stake on the national, state, and local level, we want to make sure that immigrants who can vote get registered and exercise their right to vote.”

“We Are Illinois” intends to work with 20 Democracy Fellows, youth leaders who will work alongside with ICIRR’s staff to:

Register 25,000 new immigrant voters

Contact 150,000 immigrant voters with a combination of door knocks, mail, and live calls

Mobilize 50,000 immigrant voters to the polls on Election Day

“At a time when my community and many others like mine are being challenged by hostile rhetoric and government decisions, it is all the more important that those of us who can vote will do so, and that everyone gets engaged,” said Anel Sancen, the Democracy Fellow who will be working with Mujeres Latinas en Accion this fall. “I am excited to do my part to make immigrant voices heard.”

“The outcome of this year’s elections will have major impact on immigrant communities, especially on the state level,” said Senator Iris Martinez. “We all need to do whatever we can to make sure that our families and communities are engaged in the processes that will deeply affect their lives.”

Members of the ICIRR unveiled six points to help the electoral work:

  • Ensuring a long-term equitable budget and revenue solutions
  • Protecting all immigrants from the threat of deportation
  • Increasing access to health care for all
  • Increasing access to financial aid for all students admitted to a public university across Illinois, regardless of their immigration status
  • Bringing communities together through ID card programs
  • Simplifying Illinois’ voter registration process

ICIRR announced get-out-the-vote training with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) on September 10th and 11th as well as events on September 27th, which happens to be National Voter Registration Day and on October 24th. “We have 79 days until Election Day. We will work intensively during these days to make sure that immigrant communities are fully represented in the civic life of our state,” concluded Benito.

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