Community Voices #PastDue - Centro Romero

Sep 28, 2016
Centro Romero

Debbie and William of Centro Romero, which helps the immigrant and refugee community achieve self-sufficiency, recorded this #PastDue video:

A veto from Gov. Bruce Rauner means undocumented students attending the University of Illinois are not eligible for certain leadership roles.

Big decisions at the U of I are made by the school's Board of Trustees, most of whom are appointed by the governor.

But students at each of the three campuses -- in Chicago, Springfield, and Urbana -- elect one of their peers to serve as a student trustee (one of these student trustees, chosen on a rotating basis, gets voting rights, equal to the weight of the vote of a regular, appointed member).

Washington University in St. Louis

There are actions governors can take about their concerns over Syrian refugees, but keeping them out of their states — even temporarily — is not one.  So says the emeritus professor whose textbook on immigration is used by about 185 law schools in the country.

Department of Homeland Security

Immigrants in the country illegally will soon be able to file requests to stay in the U.S. without fear of being deported.

President Barack Obama announced an executive order helping immigrants in the country illegally gain lawful employment and defer deportation. Opponents say this could hurt the economy and take jobs away from U.S. citizens.

Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, says the opposite is true.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,

Immigration status alone will no longer be a valid reason for the Illinois State Police to detain someone, under an order issued Mon., Jan. 5 by Gov. Pat Quinn.

In the executive order, Gov. Quinn says that "community policing efforts are hindered" when immigrants who are victims of, or witness to, crimes are wary of cooperating for fear they'll be deported.

Notes On The Final Governor Debate

Oct 21, 2014
wttw Chicago Tonight

The debate portion of the Illinois governor’s race is over. Monday night's debate may have given voters a little clarity.

Now - that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any mud-slinging or repetitive campaign refrains. There was a lot of that. But we did get some answers on issues that have popped up in all three debates. Like what Governor Pat Quinn would do when the 5 percent income tax rate ends in 2015.

QUINN: We need to maintain the income tax, at the same time give annual, direct, property tax relief - a 500 dollar refund - to every single homeowner in this state.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Undocumented immigrants in Central Illinois rallied in the capital city Thursday, asking President Obama to use his power of executive order to stop deportations. The Springfield gathering was part of a nationwide day of action by immigrants and allies.

Ralliers propped up at 10-foot-high puppet of President Obama. In his cardboard hands, two signs read "continue separating families" and "take bold executive action," representing the two choices the group said Obama has.


Federal officials say 305 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S.-Mexico border were placed with Illinois sponsors this year, but officials say hundreds more could be at shelters.  

The country faces a sharp rise in unaccompanied minors. They're placed at government shelters and then released to sponsors as they go through deportation proceedings. Often, sponsors are family members.  
The Chicago-based Heartland Alliance contracts with the federal government for area shelters and legal services. The group doesn't make shelter locations public for safety reasons.  

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Noel, MO - It’s almost 9 a.m., and Noel Primary School teacher Erin McPherson is helping a group of Spanish-speaking students complete English language exercises. But it’s tough going.

One student in a bright blue T-shirt – 9-year-old Isac Martinez – has not yet picked up his pencil. He’s clearly sick. When McPherson asks him what’s wrong, Isac’s small voice is barely audible in between coughs. He says he threw up four times last night but did not go to a doctor.

A somewhat unlikely coalition is calling on Illinois' Congressional delegation to support an overhaul of the nation's immigration policy.       


At a Springfield roundtable discussing immigration, Mark Peters, an attorney with Peoria-based Caterpillar, started off his remarks by saying: "This would be a ... a really bad preface to a poor joke about a sheriff, a lawyer and a priest going into a bar..."

As the leader of a nonprofit group that helps Latino families in western Lake County, Carolina Duque knows how difficult it can be for poor immigrants to live in the suburbs. The challenges start with the immigrants’ limited ability to speak English and their low levels of schooling. But what makes those problems worse are the barriers that prevent her clients from adapting to their new surroundings. 

Jamey Dunn headshot 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Pushed back on the agenda by health care reform and attempts to address the lagging economy, national immigration reform — a campaign pledge of President Barack Obama — has yet to materialize. At best, the federal government does not have a workable comprehensive guide for states on the issue, and at worst, it is sending them contradictory messages. Meanwhile, states across the country have started to address immigration in their own ways. 

Illinois lawmakers took on the federal government over its handling of immigration enforcement last spring, and nobody at the Capitol made much of a fuss.

Unions and advocates for day laborers came up with the idea, but even the Illinois Chamber of Commerce was on board. The legislation they supported would bar Illinois businesses from using a federal database called E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires, unless the feds showed the database was at least 99 percent accurate.

Some barriers immigrants cite for not applying for citizenship, advocates say, include a fear that their English-speaking abilities aren't good enough and that the administrative process for applying is too complex.

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Without immigration reform at the federal level, more local governments could try to enact policies, despite a lack of resources to enforce them.

The week the Village of Carpentersville in northern Kane County was scheduled to vote whether to make English the official language for village operations, immigration policy reforms remained in limbo at the national level.

Alejandro Cortes needs to drive to work, take his 2-year-old daughter to daycare and buy groceries. But Cortes, a 33-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant, doesn’t have a driver’s license. To make matters worse, there’s no public transportation in the northwest suburban town where he lives. So he drives, as he’s done for the past three years he’s lived here, without the state’s permission. 

“We don’t want to be in trouble with the authorities,” he says in Spanish. “There’s a lot of drunks who can cause accidents. It worries me for my family.”

Alejandro Cortés necesita manejar para poder trabajar, para llevar a su hija de dos años a la guardería y para ir al supermercado. Pero Cortés, un inmigrante mexicano indocumentado de 33 años, no tiene licencia para conducir.

Para complicar las cosas, no hay transportación pública en el pueblo donde vive. 

Entonces él ha conducido por los ultimos tres años sin el permiso del estado. 

“No queremos problemas con las autoridades”, dijo en español. “Hay muchos borrachos que pueden causar accidentes y me preocupa por mi familia.”

Jon Randolph

The suburbs to the southwest of Chicago have never been known for eagerness to embrace diversity. Nevertheless, diversity is beginning to embrace them. 

The sprawling community of Oak Lawn and the smaller nearby towns of Bridgeview, Burbank, Hometown, Chicago Ridge and Palos Heights mushroomed in the '50s and '60s as white ethnics fled the South and Southwest sides of the changing city of Chicago.