WBEZ | Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-us-senator-dick-durbin Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Filipinos wait (and wait some more) for immigration reform http://www.wbez.org/news/filipinos-wait-and-wait-some-more-immigration-reform-105779 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F81060794&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/web.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 206px; width: 275px;" title="Remedios Cabagnot and her son Adolph have waited nearly twenty years for the rest of their family's reunification visas to come through.(WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />Remedios Cabagnot keeps a shrine of small, framed photos and trinkets above the television in the Lakeview condo she shares with her adult son. They&rsquo;re photos of family members, and one is a black-and-white image of a young man in his army suit. It&rsquo;s Cabagnot&rsquo;s late husband, Serviliano, who was among hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought the Japanese under U.S. command during World War II. &ldquo;We really fought for them,&rdquo; Cabagnot reminisces. &ldquo;I can still remember the war. I was a teenager then.&rdquo;</p><p>Remedios, 86, is now saddled with a bevy of health troubles, including gout and lung problems. She has been fighting a separate battle of her own these last twenty years, one to reunite with her other grown children in the US. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a land of honey,&rdquo; she says, smiling. &ldquo;We loved America and we wanted to see America.&rdquo;</p><p>Remedios arrived in the U.S. in 1993, joining her husband who had come just a few years earlier through the Immigration Act of 1990. That act contained a special provision to allow Filipino World War II veterans to immigrate to the US. Their son Adolph was already in the U.S., but they left behind their other three adult children, assuming it would not take long to obtain visas for them and their families.</p><p>&ldquo;We petitioned them right away, [in] &lsquo;93,&rdquo; Remedios recalls. &ldquo;They gave us requirements: Do this, do that, so we did that. We filed everything, and then they were all approved.&rdquo; Remedios&rsquo; oldest son, Alphonsus, was approved in 1993, before the others. Remedios said her family is tight-knit, and they were encouraged by the speed with which the reunification petitions were approved.</p><p>But the Cabagnots discovered the bottleneck in family reunifications that has hindered many immigrants from establishing complete lives in the U.S.: The federal government caps the number of family reunification visas each year for non-dependent and non-immediate relations.</p><p>When the number of approved petitions exceeds the cap, it creates a queue. The longest queues are for prospective immigrants from China, India, Mexico, and, longest of all, the Philippines.</p><p>Last month the State Department was <a href="http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5834.html">just getting to some Filipino visa applications from April of 1989</a>. Among those in line are children of Filipino war veterans. Jerry Clarito, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, says this does not honor those veterans. &ldquo;They were in the front line of the battle. Now they are behind, waiting,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So what happened with the veterans who came here? They came here, they continued contributing to America, but they&rsquo;re doing it alone.&rdquo;</p><p>Clarito plans to mobilize Filipinos now that Washington is revisiting the issue of immigration reform, and he has already started reaching out to congressional representatives. He says an obvious solution would be to exempt Filipino veterans&rsquo; children from the cap on family reunification visas, much like young, dependent children are not subjected to a limit.</p><p>Clarito said the local Filipino community did not push hard for such a change in 2007, the last year that Congress considered comprehensive immigration reform measures. But this time around, Clarito hopes lawmakers will seize the opportunity, even if they would only affect a small fraction of immigrant families. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very, very small change, compared to the millions [of undocumented immigrants],&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But to make this humane, and really comprehensive, we have to listen to those voices that are usually not being heard.&rdquo;</p><p>The story of Remedios Cabagnot and her children, meanwhile, has only gotten more complicated. After 17 years of waiting, Remedios&rsquo; oldest son, Alphonsus, got a visa number in 2010. But before he completed the final requirements to come to the U.S., his father, Serviliano Cabagnot, fell ill. Serviliano was hospitalized, and died at 91, before Alphonsus was able to come.</p><p>Remedios was then dealt a second blow when she received a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. &ldquo;We were all devastated when they told us that our prayers and petitions died with my husband.&rdquo; Because veteran Serviliano Cabagnot had been the sponsor for the visa petitions, the petitions were revoked with his death.</p><p>Remedios&rsquo; attempts to change the sponsorship of her children&rsquo;s petitions to her name have been twice rejected. Last month, she appealed directly to Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, with the hope that his office might intervene. In an email to WBEZ, Durbin wrote &ldquo;It should be much easier to replace one U.S. citizen immediate family member with another on visa petitions &ndash; it&rsquo;s common sense particularly in this case.&rdquo;</p><p>In the meantime, Remedios and her children email each other updates on the status of visas, ever hopeful. &ldquo;I miss my children so much,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;My grandchildren, some are married. I miss them so much.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow Odette Yousef on Twitter @<a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">oyousef</a></p><p><em>Correction: The original version of this story stated Remedios Cabagnot&#39;s age as 89. She is 86.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 21:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/filipinos-wait-and-wait-some-more-immigration-reform-105779 Illinois Democrats head home from Charlotte ready for a fight http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/illinois-democrats-head-home-charlotte-ready-fight-102265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IL dem convention.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Democrats are headed home after a week of politicking at their party&rsquo;s national convention in North Carolina, but their work for the 2012 elections is just heating up.</p><p>Illinois Democrats, Republicans, and opinion polls all suggest President Barack Obama is strongly favored to win his home state.</p><p>But delegates like Chicagoan Jim Montgomery aren&#39;t taking that for granted. He says the president now needs to show voters he has concrete plans for fixing the economy. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m gonna go home with the idea that we&rsquo;ve got to fight like hell in order to win this election for Barack Obama,&quot; Montgomery said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said that he&rsquo;s focusing on tight Illinois congressional races and presidential swing states.</p><p>&quot;Don&rsquo;t forget, our first job&rsquo;s Illinois,&quot; Durbin said. &quot;Let&rsquo;s make sure we do well there for the president, and for every candidate. But our extra hours are gonna be spent in Iowa, Wisconsin, on the phones, when we can visit.&quot;</p><p>The Democrats will have their work cut out for them;&nbsp;Illinois Republicans came out of their convention just as focused on the same tight races further down the ticket.</p></p> Fri, 07 Sep 2012 11:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/illinois-democrats-head-home-charlotte-ready-fight-102265 Durbin confident on Senate transportation bill's chances http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-confident-senate-transportation-bills-chances-97142 <p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said he expects a transportation funding bill to pass the Senate this week.</p><p>Lawmakers have until the end of the month to pass a transportation bill, because current highway and transit funding programs are set to expire March 31.</p><p>The $109 billion Senate bill has bipartisan support.</p><p>Durbin said he hopes House Republicans will drop a rival transportation bill and consider the Senate version.</p><p>"When they put that bill out, Republican members of the House came home and took a beating. Not only from newspapers, but from business and labor groups and local elected officials who said that the House Republican transportation bill would be a disaster," said Durbin.</p><p>The House bill was criticized by both parties among Illinois lawmakers.</p><p>Critics say that bill would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Illinois roadway, railway, and public transportation programs.</p></p> Fri, 09 Mar 2012 23:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-confident-senate-transportation-bills-chances-97142 Transportaion bill stalled in U.S. Senate http://www.wbez.org/story/transportaion-bill-stalled-us-senate-97061 <p><p>Lawmakers are under pressure to find a way to keep federal aid flowing to highway and transit programs beyond the end of this month after a transportation bill failed Tuesday to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate.</p><p>The government's power to spend federal Highway Trust Fund money on transportation programs and to levy federal gas and diesel taxes<br> that support the trust fund are due to expire March 31. If that were to happen, states could have difficulty paying for construction projects already in progress and would likely be reluctant to commit to new projects, lawmakers and transportation interest groups said.</p><p>Senate Democrats fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and move forward with the bill. All but two Republicans, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted against a motion to limit debate.</p><p>Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said amendments involving the Keystone pipeline and pollution control are holding the bill up unnecessarily.</p><p>"Things like this are extraneous to the bill, have nothing to do with federal transportation. I'm sorry they want to do this, but we're going to have to face many of these amendments just to get the bill done," said Durbin.</p><p>Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and other Democrats accused Republicans of political obstruction. GOP senators said they were trying to preserve their right to offer amendments. Moments before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered Reid a compromise as the two lawmakers stood on the House floor. The proposal would cap amendments to a list of about 30 that have been offered by Democrats and Republicans.</p><p>"This is a bill that is not going to be stopped. It has broad bipartisan support," McConnell said. "We anticipate being able to wrap it up."</p><p>The U.S. House is considering a separate Transportation bill.</p></p> Wed, 07 Mar 2012 22:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/transportaion-bill-stalled-us-senate-97061 Calls for cleaner air in Union Station http://www.wbez.org/story/calls-cleaner-air-union-station-96161 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/Metra Train 3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is calling for better air quality in Chicago's Union Station. In 2010 the Chicago <em>Tribun</em>e found high levels of diesel soot and air pollution on platforms and in train cars at Union Station.&nbsp;</p><p>Joel Africk with the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago said it's a serious problem.</p><p>"The diesel exhaust we're talking about contains 40 chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer. Diesel exhaust pollution causes asthma attacks, it causes heart attacks," Africk said.</p><p>Federal agencies along with Metra and Amtrak did their own study and instituted some changes in response. One result was Metra installing filters to each train car which it says reduces pollution inside cars by 75 percent on average.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-06/durbin and pals metra.jpg" style="width: 392px; height: 301px; float: right; margin: 10px;" title="Sen. Dick Durbin (at mic stand) is joined by Amtrak, Metra and a health official at Union Station (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel) ">But Durbin said the ventilation system in an adjacent building isn't working and is causing exhaust to back up in the station. Durbin sent a letter to the owners of the old Post Office on Monday asking them to fix their system. Amtrak filed a complaint in court last week asking the same.&nbsp;</p><p>At the press conference Monday, the company that owns the old Post Office delivered a written statement that said they're sending three of their extractor fans in for repairs this week.</p><p>When news of this new statement reached Durbin, he said, "I'm glad to see that they're here - welcome. And I didn't have to serve a subpoena to bring them."</p><p><em>The following video shows exhaust in the area of Union Station that sits directly below the Post Office building. You can see the exhaust by looking just below the lights on the ceiling. </em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/36308995?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601" frameborder="0" height="339"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/calls-cleaner-air-union-station-96161 Durbin calls Egypt's trial of LaHood's son 'an outrage' http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-calls-egypts-trial-lahoods-son-outrage-96154 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/AP Photo Transportation Department, File.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin warned Egypt to stop pursuing trials against 19 Americans working there. Among the workers is Peoria native Sam LaHood. He's the son of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.</p><p>Egypt alleges pro-democracy groups<a href="http://www.iri.org/"> like the one LaHood works for</a> are funding and supporting anti-Egyptian government protests.</p><p>Durbin was emotional when asked about LaHood by reporters at an unrelated press conference Monday.</p><p>He said, "It is an outrage that a country that receives more foreign aid than any other country in the world, is arresting the representatives of our government and threatening to throw them in jail for doing something that is very public, very open and not inconsistent with their future!"</p><p>Durbin said Egypt has no case against the workers, and pursuing the matter further will put its relationship with the United States on the line.</p><p>Prosecutors said Sam LaHood and five other Americans remain in Egypt, while the others have left. Egypt has banned LaHood from leaving the country.</p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-calls-egypts-trial-lahoods-son-outrage-96154 Durbin praises bill banning Congressional insider trading http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-praises-bill-banning-congressional-insider-trading-96110 <p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is praising the Senate for passing a bill that would ban insider trading among lawmakers and other government officials.</p><p>Durbin said Friday the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, was taken up in November after an episode of CBS's <em>60 Minutes</em> detailed how members of Congress traded stocks on non-public information from Capitol Hill. President Barack Obama also mentioned the bill in his State of the Union address, saying he was ready to pass the bill immediately.</p><p>The new bill would require lawmakers, congressional aids and other government officials to report any stock trades online within 30 days.</p><p>Durbin is a co-sponsor of the bill.</p><p>"If the public wants to take a look or the press they can see if they believe if there is any improper linkage between the trade that is made and some decision or information the a member of congress has," said Durbin. "It's just another step toward disclosure."</p><p>The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate 96-3 on Thursday.</p><p>A similar version is expected to come up in the House of Representatives next week.</p></p> Fri, 03 Feb 2012 23:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-praises-bill-banning-congressional-insider-trading-96110 Durbin favors repeal of Defense of Marriage Act http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-favors-repeal-defense-marriage-act-95146 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/gay marriage rally .jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some U.S. senators will be looking to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act this coming year. The law prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.</p><p>Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he wants it repealed as it relates to federal benefits.</p><p>"I believe that we should have marriage equality in this country - that we should treat people fairly, that we should not discriminate against them in this circumstance," Durbin said.</p><p>Durbin said he'll support calling for the repeal to come for a vote before the Senate.</p><p>Earlier this year Illinois passed a Civil Unions Act, providing couples, including same sex couples, many of the same legal rights as married couples.</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 20:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-favors-repeal-defense-marriage-act-95146 Durbin: Senate version of payroll tax extension is 'only option' http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-senate-version-payroll-tax-extension-only-option-95107 <p><p>Sen. John McCain said Thursday that Congress' failure to reach agreement on legislation extending a payroll tax cut for working Americans "hurts the Republican Party." The GOP's 2008 presidential nominee said his party made a mistake in voting down the Senate-passed version of a bill that would have kept the current payroll tax relief intact for at least two more months.</p><p>McCain told CBS's "The Early Show" he feels badly for 160 million Americans, whom he called "innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire." He said the House should pass the same bill that cleared the Senate "but put a year on it" and send it back.</p><p>McCain also said, "This is really tragic for the American people, and I would say that next November, no incumbent is safe, nor should they be."</p><p>Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said the House must accept the Senate's version of the legislation.</p><p>"That's the only option," he said in an interview on MSNBC. "Let's get the 60-day matter out of the way, so there is no uncertainty, and then let's sit down and talk about it." Durbin maintained the congressional impasse has left company human relations directors and payroll administrators confused about how to proceed.</p><p>President Barack Obama prepared to make a fresh appeal later Thursday to House Republicans to accept the two-month payroll tax cut extension. The White House said that Obama planned to make a statement at midday.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 22 Dec 2011 16:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-senate-version-payroll-tax-extension-only-option-95107 Durbin lobbies GOP-lead House for federal benefits extension http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-lobbies-gop-lead-house-federeal-benefits-extension-95067 <p><p>U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is lobbying the House to extend some federal benefits by year's end.</p><p>On Tuesday, the House rejected a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut that overwhelmingly passed the Senate last week. Both are set to expire on Jan. 1.</p><p>Durbin says more than 50,000 Illinoisans could start losing their unemployment benefits if the measure is not passed.</p><p>Speaking before the House vote, Durbin accused House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, of losing control of the GOP House caucus.</p><p>"He cannot say no to some of the more radical members of the house republican caucus," said Durbin. "And because he goes along with them, we find ourselves in this impossible position."</p><p>Some House Republicans have argued that extending the benefits for two months is not long enough and are pushing for a year-long extension, something the Senate couldn't agree to last week.</p><p>Speaking after the vote, Boehner asked President Barack Obama to call the Senate back to Washington D.C.</p><p>"I need the president to help out," said Boehner in a news conference on Tuesday.</p><p>Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won't negotiate until the House approves the Senate's two-month package.</p></p> Tue, 20 Dec 2011 19:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-lobbies-gop-lead-house-federeal-benefits-extension-95067