Durbin, Gutierrez, Preckwinkle Join ICIRR, Other Leaders to Declare: Illinois is Ready

May 18, 2015


Durbin, Gutierrez, Preckwinkle Join ICIRR, Other Leaders to Declare: Illinois is Ready

Broad Coalition Plans Outreach Strategy for Administrative Relief


“Illinois is Ready.” That’s the message that a wide array of elected, business, faith, labor, and community leaders, including U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez, declared Monday at Erie Neighborhood House, an immigrant-services organization in West Town. These allies, convened by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), gathered to support new programs that would shield certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Last November, President Obama took executive action to provide administrative relief to millions of immigrants by expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and creating a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program for certain immigrants. Both programs would offer immigrants the opportunity to get protection from deportation and authorization to work if they pass background checks and meet other criteria. In response, ICIRR rolled out the Illinois is Ready campaign, a collaboration with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Durbin, Congressman Gutierrez, and a broad network of community-serving allies to push accurate information regarding DACA and DAPA into the community and to ensure immigrant serving organizations have the training and resources to assist immigrants with the application process.

Community allies have already given dozens of educational presentations throughout the state, and helped thousands of immigrants gather the documents they will need when they submit their applications. Though the programs stand to benefit as many as 280,000 immigrants in Illinois, they are on hold due to an injunction from an anti-immigrant federal judge in Texas and await further action from the courts.

“President Obama’s decision to grant deferred action to Dreamers was a historic moment for human rights in our country,” said Senator Durbin. “Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are already giving back to their communities. Late last year, the President used his legal authority to expand DACA and defer deportations of parents of U.S. citizens to keep families together and allow them to live without fear. It’s unfortunate that a destructive and desperate Republican lawsuit has put millions of immigrants' lives on hold. The Supreme Court has been clear that Presidents have the authority to set federal immigration enforcement priorities and I’m confident the President’s actions will ultimately be upheld.”

“It is only a matter of time before people are signing up for DACA and DAPA and there is a great hunger around the country for information and assistance in getting ready,” said US Rep. Gutierrez.  “Chicago is leading the way in preparations, but there is still a lot of work to do to prepare families, prepare communities, and prepare individuals for applying.  There is also a need to educate ourselves about the protections from deportation that are already in effect because of the way the President and Homeland Security have said they are prioritizing enforcement.” 

“This should have been a very good morning for those of us who believe in fairness and equity for everyone, and who call this country home,” said President Toni Preckwinkle. “Unfortunately we are currently at a standstill due to actions beyond our control that fly in the face of common sense and decency. I lend my continuing support for the President’s executive orders that would protect millions of immigrants, both children and adults, from deportation and allow them to work and support their families.”

At Monday’s press conference, immigrant families were on hand to discuss the importance of DACA and DAPA—the protection from deportation and family separation and the opportunity to work, become self-sufficient, contribute to our economy, and move forward with their lives.

“We will continue to work in our community to get people prepared for DAPA,” said Maria Albarran, a leader with the West Suburban Action Project (PASO) who is herself eligible for DAPA. “We will not be discouraged by the court order or by anyone else who stands in our way.”

The assembled leaders also discussed how Governor Rauner’s proposal to zero out the Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI) in next year’s budget would devastate the state’s ability to reach out to immigrants, help them apply for DACA and DAPA, and reap the gains of the added economic activity.

“Governor Rauner’s decision to eliminate funding for immigrant services was unfortunate and short-sighted,” said ICIRR CEO Lawrence Benito. “The Governor had called DAPA and expanded DACA ‘a great start,’ but he did not seem to realize that many of the agencies that receive ISLI funding are the very same organizations where many applicants will turn for accurate information and assistance.”

After the press conference, a diverse table of stakeholders discussed the Illinois is Ready campaign. The meeting represented an effort to broaden the campaign’s reach while further developing outreach strategies aimed at signing up eligible immigrants for the new programs.

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.