Legislators warn residents of compromises on immigration reform

Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez say immigration reform comes with compromises.

April 5, 2013

(WBEZ/Adriana Cardona)
Sen. Durbin and Rep. Gutierrez meet with Little Village residents to hear their concerns and discuss immigration reform.

Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez Thursday warned that a senate immigration reform bill in the works might not address all of the problems facing residents living illegally in the United States.

They spoke to residents of the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village in Chicago. They shared their optimism about a proposal from the team of bipartisan senators scheduled to come out next week. It offers a path to citizenship.

Senator Durbin said his ideal comprehensive package will be trimmed during negotiations at the nation's capital. The fundamentals, however, aren't up for debate.

“We said to everybody, every senator walking into that room, before you sit down, you have to commit,” Durbin said. “That when this is over, these people will have the opportunity to become legal and then become citizens, and they say ‘yes.’”

But in a recent New York Times editorial co-authored with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gutierrez also expressed concern about farm workers and the possibility of a guest-worker program.

According to news reports, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce  and the AFL-CIO have agreed on a work visa program that requires companies to pay immigrant workers fair wages. 

Gutierrez hinted during a small gathering with constituents on Thursday that any proposal written by members in his chamber needs to addresses those issues.

The gathering took place at Enlace Chicago, a local community organization. Students and their parents shared their stories and asked both Durbin and Gutierrez to keep their concerns in mind.

Karen Canales is a current senior at Social Justice High School. She said President Obama’s recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program does not really give her the opportunities she needs to move forward in her career.

“The derefer action doesn’t guarantee any FAFSA, any government loans for me to continue my education,” Canales said.

Justina Alfaro is also a senior from Farragut Career Academy. She said eight years ago her dad was deported back to Mexico for not having a driver’s license. She said she hopes the new immigration proposals will focus on reuniting families.

“ I was 11 years old when I saw that my dad was being arrested,” she said. “It’s been difficult for my family  and for me because he was the support of the house.”

Senator Durbin said if an agreement on immigration reform is reached, the bill will go to the Judiciary committee to start an amendment process.  Meanwhile, Gutierrez said a House bill could be coming soon after the Senate’s proposal.