As DAPA Anniversary Nears, Immigrant Leaders Announce Voter Push to Win Broader Reform

November 18, 2015

 As DAPA Anniversary Nears, Immigrant Leaders Announce Voter Push to Win Broader Reform

Communities Call for Supreme Court Review of DAPA Ruling, Prepare to Flex Own Voting Power


(CHICAGO, NOVEMBER 18, 2015) Today the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) joined immigrant leaders and community members to call on the Supreme Court to review the 5th Circuit decision upholding the order blocking the implementation of administrative relief. This is a critical time for immigrant communities to come together, and ICIRR is urging eligible voters and legal permanent residences to make their voices heard at the polls in 2016.

 “We will continue to encourage, and educate our communities about their rights and the responsibility of voting,” said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR CEO.  “We know the road to the white house goes through the immigrant community, and we’re going to continue to organize and push for the Supreme Court to take up this case as we move towards 2016.”

This Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s announcement of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. These programs were announced on November 20, 2014, to extend temporary protections to certain undocumented immigrants at a time when the federal government has been unable to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation. These expanded protections have been stalled in the court system for a year, and last week the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court order blocking these programs from assisting five million undocumented people across the country.

With the 2016 presidential elections less than a year away, ICIRR is calling on immigrants and immigrant advocates to talk to their neighbors, register to vote and educate themselves about the leaders who will represent them in the coming 2016 elections.

“We are talking about the critical importance of voting and the power we have in selecting legislatures and leaders who are going to develop the very policies that will impact our lives,” said Inhe Choi, Executive Director of Korean American Resource & Cultural Center. “In the last few decades the number of immigrant registered voters has increased by 10.6 million, and we are continuing to raise these numbers by naturalizing and encouraging voter registration.”

Eight hundred thousand Latinos turn 18 every year and by 2016, the number of eligible Latino voters across the country will rise to 28 million. In the US, there are 8.8 million green card holders eligible for US citizenship, and in Chicago alone there are more than 100,000 lawful permanent residents. This is a powerful block of potential voters, and it is up to every individual who values immigration to ensure elected officials are held accountable to the immigrant community.

“Our voice will not be heard unless we vote,” said Ana Parra of Interfaith Leadership Project. “I urge our community members to talk to everyone they know, and to register to vote to influence our elected officials. We must continue to work.”

In the last ten years, ICIRR has assisted nearly 100,000 legal permanent residents become citizens, and in 2014 alone, ICIRR registered more than 29,000 new voters. Last Saturday, ICIRR held a free citizenship workshop for more than 100 eligible US citizenship applicants, and through ICIRR’s network of partner organizations, voter engagement efforts will continue to build in the coming months. For comprehensive change to take place, the immigrant community must work to collectively elect leaders who will priorities comprehensive reform and legitimate pathways to citizenship.

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