Plan Poses Dilemma for Immigrant Advocates

May 20, 2007

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Immigrant advocates in Chicago are struggling with a sweeping federal reform proposal announced this past week.

Chicago Public Radio's Chip Mitchell reports.

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The proposal would give many of the nation's estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

But many elements of the plan worry immigrant advocates. They say, for example, its temporary worker program could create a permanent underclass.

Walter Coleman is pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church on Chicago's West Side. That's where a Mexican mother has lived since last August in defiance of a deportation order.

COLEMAN: “There obviously are some weaknesses and some problems but I think there's at least a light at the end of the tunnel, that the nation has come to realize that comprehensive immigration reform has to be accomplished.”

Others say the proposal isn't worth trying to repair.

Jorge Mújica helps lead the March 10 Committee, the group behind huge immigrant marches through the Loop.

MUJICA: “It might sound like a paradox, but maybe our position is going to be start lobbying against reform, because if this is what they call immigration reform, we are totally against it.”

Lawmakers from Illinois can expect an earful from both factions.

I'm Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.