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Immigrant leaders and advocates take to the streets to demand action from Senator Durbin and a pathway to citizenship NOW

Brandon Lee


Wed Nov 03 2021

CHICAGO -- Twenty-nine immigrant community leaders and allies were arrested before a crowd of over 100 supporters on Wednesday morning following a civil disobedience demonstration to demand congress pass a pathway to citizenship this year. The immigration leaders called on Senator Dick Durbin (the #2 in senate leadership) to use his position within the Democratic Party and the U.S. Senate to deliver on this demand. For 90 minutes, the leaders blocked rush hour traffic for miles starting in front of the I.C.E. field office on Ida B. Wells Drive in downtown Chicago and laid out banners reading “DURBIN & CONGRESS: DELIVER CITIZENSHIP NOW” and “GREEN CARDS AHORA” representing their demand for permanent solutions from Congress as part of the Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill. 


Immigrant community leaders and allies who participated in the action spoke about why a pathway to citizenship is important to pass this year: 

Dulce Ortiz, Executive Director of Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, and Board President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: “There’s no business as usual while our families and communities are on the line. Today 29 freedom fighters showed that we can disrupt the status quo while making sure our voices are heard by those with the ability to make meaningful changes for our families. We’ve been waiting for 35 years for immigration relief, and we know that Senator Durbin heard our demand for a pathway to citizenship today. Senators and Congressmembers across the country will hear from our national movement across ten more actions taking place tomorrow.” 

Glo Choi, community organizer with HANA Center: “We, the immigrants, the essential, the now discarded, are enraged by the centrist Democrats who’ve betrayed our community while lauding our sacrifices before and during the pandemic. These are elected officials who promised protections and the rightful path to citizenship we’ve earned and who, time and time again, benefit from our contributions to the tax base while we receive mere crumbs. As an undocumented immigrant myself with a family consisting of full time care givers, a disabled sister who requires full time care, and of essential workers who helped feed the community during America’s time of crisis, to say we are livid is an understatement. All undocumented essential workers deserve to rest and reap the benefits they’ve earned. I fear my parents will not have that right, and the failure of the Democratic Party to secure their rights is heartbreaking. The thought of my parents, and the millions of undocumented immigrants working to their death, while unable to explore the beauty of this world keeps me up at night. We will not stop until our community gains the rights they deserve by virtue of their humanity. We will not relent, and we will not go away quietly.”

Grace Pai, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, and co-chair of the ICIRR Action Council: “Stopping anti-Asian hate means ending deportations and surveillance, investing in communities, and creating a pathway to citizenship now. Communities of color and immigrant voters delivered the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate with record turnout in 2020, and now it’s time for Democrats to follow through on their promises by including a pathway to citizenship in the Build Back Better package. Our communities need permanent solutions and deserve nothing less.”

Eli Cervantes, co-founder of Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project, ICIRR board Vice-President, and DACA recipient: “For over 20 years, Congress’s inability to deliver on citizenship has kept my community under an oppressive and failed immigration system. I’m so tired of the politics around my life, broken promises and ongoing criminalization. I put my body on the line to remind my Senator, Dick Durbin, that this is a moment everyone is watching and that will be remembered — he can either lead boldly to bring a permanent solution to millions or keep failing. I along with thousands others have been fighting the fight, it’s now up to those who call themselves our allies in Congress to show up, take a risk and deliver a pathway to citizenship, not some watered down, temporary version. I refuse to accept any further negotiation with my life and my community’s, because we are not bargaining chips, we are whole humans and we are more awake than ever. The solution is green cards for our communities, nothing less!”

Melissa Texcahua Reyes, DACA recipient and organizer with Logan Square Neighborhood Association: “People who are living here undocumented need a pathway to citizenship. We are not settling for less because people who came to this country continue to fight fearlessly for more. The undocumented do not live in the shadows; they risk absolutely everything to make sure their families are taken care of. Now is the time for our elected officials to show the same bravery and fight for what is right, fight for a pathway to citizenship.” 

Rabbi Isaac Serotta, with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs: "My grandparents fled persecution in their nations of origin and became a part of the American fabric. I am here because this nation allowed them to stay. Today's immigrants face similar persecution. I’m risking arrest today to call on our leaders to create a path to citizenship now, because millions of undocumented people in our communities can’t wait any longer."

Patrick Brosnan, Executive Director of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council: “Thousands of undocumented people, including mixed status families and people with DACA on the southwest side of Chicago need a pathway to citizenship. Now is the time for Senator Durbin and members of Congress to act and provide the permanent protections that our neighborhoods need.” 

Jose Sanchez, leader with UIC SDS: “We thought it was important to show solidarity with ICIRR and other organizations fighting for immigrants rights and a pathway towards citizenship without barriers. As a child of Mexican immigrants, I want to fight for the families that are trying to live a better life without the fear of being deported or placed in inhumane camps by ICE. Students for a Democratic Society aligns itself with the struggles of oppressed peoples, and undocumented immigrants are no exception. We are demanding that Dick Durbin and the Biden administration keep their promise of a guaranteed pathway to citizenship.”

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