Elected Officials, Immigrant Leaders Rally on Citizenship Day, Demand Immigrant-Friendly Policies

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

As the stakes for immigrant families increase amid this fall’s elections, US Senator Richard Durbin, US Rep. Mike Quigley, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State Representative Lisa Hernandez, Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, and other dignitaries joined the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and hundreds of immigrant leaders at Chicago’s Truman College for a rally to celebrate Citizenship Day. The event included a naturalization workshop that assisted 125 immigrants with their citizenship applicants, as well as a program highlighting immigrants who have become citizens and are looking forward to voting this fall.

“As the son of an immigrant, I know how important it is for our country to welcome newcomers, and for newcomers to become US citizens,” said US Senator Richard Durbin. “I look forward to continuing to work with ICIRR and other allies to ensure that our nation celebrates new citizens and honors immigrant families and communities.” Immigrants want the increased power they have as citizens—and voters—to win policy changes that will improve their lives. “I became a citizen so that I could gain a stronger voice for myself and my community,” said Karla Pineda, organizer for the Interfaith Leadership Project of Cicero, Berwyn, and Stickney. “Citizenship has given me more power and enabled me to engage at all levels of government to work for better policies.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

On the federal level, the outcome of the presidential and Congressional races could set the stage for a renewed push for immigration reform—or for harsher policies that will disrupt families, workplaces, and communities and discriminate against religious and nationality groups. On the state level, the budget impasse continues to harm immigrant communities despite the stopgap budget approved in June. Immigrant services funding remains tied up, limiting the ability of community organizations to provide help with citizenship and immigration cases, interpretation services, and support for other vital needs. In particular, the impasse interrupted the New Americans Initiative (NAI), a partnership between ICIRR and the Illinois Department of Human Services that had provided resources for citizenship workshops, civics education, and community outreach. “Our state has a long history of helping immigrants adjust to life in this country and become US citizens through the New Americans Initiative,” said State Representative Lisa Hernandez. “I will work to ensure that immigrants across the state get the assistance they need as they move forward with their new lives.”

Comments are closed.