February 10, 2013


Immigrant awards presented to Mayor Emanuel, SEIU and UNITE HERE!

Today, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) hosted its 3rd annual Immigrant Integration Summit, where over 1,000 people participated in workshops, which included: information about Illinois’ new driver’s licenses law, deferred-action for childhood arrivals (DACA), health care, parent engagement in childhood education, pathways to adult education, a citizenship workshop and a panel discussion on comprehensive immigration reform.   In attendance were:  Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, House Republican Leader Tom Cross, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  

ICIRR unveiled its 2013 issues platform for the state and federal work ahead, with an eye towards the 2014 mid-term elections. The platform includes:  fighting for families through the launch of Keeping Families Together campaign to move Illinois’ Congressional delegation to support just and humane immigration reform, including a path to citizenship; fighting private detention; budgeting for results; health care access; early childhood education through parent engagement; and the launch of the Illinois Immigrant Integration Institute (I-4). The I-4 is dedicated to generating research and policy advocacy on integration issues. The I-4 will work with local and state governments, national thought partners, community and immigrant organizations, civic groups, and the business and labor communities to develop and implement strategies that promote the full contributions of new Americans in Illinois.

“Our immigrant integration summit is a call to action.  We've done the marching. We've done the voting.   Our communities made loud and clear last November that we must achieve comprehensive immigration reform now,” said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR’s CEO.


ICIRR also presented two awards:  the Emma Lazarus Award for Immigrant Integration to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for championing naturalization, creating the Office of New Americans and supporting the passage of Driver's Licenses for All.  By actively fighting for the full integration of all immigrants, Mayor Emanuel has made Chicago the "Most American of American Cities." The Juancho Donohue Award for Immigrant Justice to Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and to UNITE HERE! for their long-standing support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and for their key role in the passage of Driver's License for All. 


“I am honored to receive the Emma Lazarus inaugural award for immigrant integration from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. I look forward to working with you in the days ahead to push our city forward on the great American journey toward equality and opportunity for all. Immigrants have read Emma Lazarus’ famous words on the Statue of Liberty for more than a century. And immigrants have lived those words in Chicago for just as long, making our city what it is today. I commend ICIRR’s dedication and consistent work to promote the rights of immigrants and refugees and ensure equal and full participation in civic life. Chicago was built on the shoulders of immigrants and we see that same immigrant spirit strengthening our City today. From our support for the Illinois DREAM ACT, to making driver’s licenses available to all residents, to establishing initiatives that promote immigrant businesses and citizenship, we are creating more opportunities for immigrants to pursue their dreams,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  

“A roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants strengthens our entire nation.  Standing united in passing common sense immigration reform will lead to economic growth and better wages for all workers, while reflecting our American values,” Tom Balanoff, President SEIU Local 1.

Since momentum for immigration reform is surging, ICIRR hosted a forum on comprehensive immigration reform with leading experts in the field to discuss the various aspects of reform. With the Senators announcing a bipartisan framework, the President unveiling his outline in a major address, and grassroots group all over the country announcing major actions and events, the stage has been set for passing immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living and working in our communities.

"This is a moment when all of the road signs are pointed towards immigration reform in this Congress, this year, but there is still a lot of work to do.  Congress needs constant pressure from the outside to keep up the urgency and the momentum and immigrant communities need to make their voices and their concerns heard.  If we are going to win the best immigration reform bill that helps the most people, enables citizenship, and fixes things for the long-term, every Member of Congress, both friends and foes of immigration reform, needs to hear from the people,” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez. 

 “The immigrant integration fight doesn’t end with immigration reform,” said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR’s CEO. “Recognizing that we need to work to integrate both the 11 million undocumented immigrants and the 13.1 million legal permanent residents is not only good for our economy but a testament to a vibrant and welcoming democracy.”

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit www.icirr.org.