WBEZ | Dick Durbin http://www.wbez.org/tags/dick-durbin Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en U.S. mulls letting young illegal immigrants enlist http://www.wbez.org/news/us-mulls-letting-young-illegal-immigrants-enlist-110201 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DurbinMilitaryTHUMB_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration may allow military enlistment by thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally, a top U.S. Department of Defense official said Monday.<br /><br />Jessica L. Wright, the department&rsquo;s acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, described the immigrants, known as DREAMers, as &ldquo;some of the best and brightest in America that we could capitalize on.&rdquo;</p><p>Wright said the decision would come by summer&rsquo;s end and involved the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the White House.<br /><br />Her comments came at a Chicago hearing held by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, who wants the Obama administration to open the military to immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and provide them a path to citizenship. DACA, a program set up by the administration in 2012, has provided work papers and deportation reprieves to hundreds of thousands of youths.<br /><br />Federal law limits military enlistment to U.S. nationals and legal permanent residents but allows exceptions if &ldquo;vital to the national interest.&rdquo; In 2008, President George W. Bush&rsquo;s administration made exceptions for immigrant enlistees with certain language and health-care skills.</p><p>Durbin held the hearing at Phoenix Military Academy, a public high school on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and the site of a large Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. The witnesses included uniformed Phoenix students living in the country illegally.</p><p>One of them, Jessica Calderón, a junior at the school, said her mother sent her to the United States from Mexico at age 3. &ldquo;I was raised in America and really consider myself to be a citizen even though some numbers and papers do not say so,&rdquo; Calderón said.<br /><br />Calderón said her dream is to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and, from there, become an Army officer. &ldquo;The only thing that holds me back from accomplishing my goals is my status as an undocumented immigrant,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Durbin said it was time for the United States to open the military to Calderón and other young unauthorized immigrants who would benefit from stalled legislation known as the DREAM Act.</p><p>&ldquo;The question is this,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;Will America be a stronger country if we deport our DREAMers to countries they barely remember or if we allow them to contribute more fully to the country whose flag they&rsquo;ve pledged allegiance to every day they&rsquo;ve been in school?&rdquo;<br /><br />Durbin pointed to the military&rsquo;s history. &ldquo;Back in World War II, when the nation was divided by race, even much worse than it is today, President Roosevelt decided to end racial discrimination in the recruitment of men and women into the military,&rdquo; the senator said. &ldquo;So, in a way, the military has been a leader in America as we&rsquo;ve evolved on issues like race.&rdquo;</p><p>But the idea of opening the armed services to these unauthorized immigrants &mdash; and providing them a path to citizenship &mdash; is drawing fire from two directions.</p><p>Outside the hearing, a dozen peace activists chanted through a megaphone and spoke to reporters. &ldquo;We oppose strongly this idea of Durbin&rsquo;s that undocumented young people should be cannon fodder for the U.S. military in these endless wars,&rdquo; Laura Guerra of Chicago said.</p><p>Durbin&rsquo;s push is also stirring up some conservatives. Last week a House Republican leader <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fight-looming-military-immigration-measure" target="_blank">indicated he would block</a> a similar proposal.</p><p>Daniel Horowitz, policy director of a Tea Party campaign-funding group called the Madison Project, said allowing illegal immigrants to enlist would send the wrong message. &ldquo;Join the military and you get legal status,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Horowitz also warned of what he called a military security threat. &ldquo;We certainly don&rsquo;t want to invite in bad actors who have very shady backgrounds, no documentation,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />But Calderón, the high-school student born in Mexico, assured the audience at the hearing that she has only one loyalty. &ldquo;I pledge allegiance to this nation every day and I wouldn&rsquo;t feel comfortable defending any other nation but America,&rdquo; she testified. &ldquo;I will never stop working as hard as I can until I get to serve this nation.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 May 2014 18:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-mulls-letting-young-illegal-immigrants-enlist-110201 Morning Shift: Have school lunches in Chicago gotten any healthier? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-15/morning-shift-have-school-lunches-chicago-gotten-any <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover school lunches Flickr USDAgov.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Just how healthy are school lunches at Chicago Public Schools? What about the school your child attends? We tackles those questions. We also get a preview of the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival - this year&#39;s lineup has something for everyone.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-have-years-of-reform-created-healthi/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-have-years-of-reform-created-healthi.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-have-years-of-reform-created-healthi" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Have school lunches in Chicago gotten any healthier?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-15/morning-shift-have-school-lunches-chicago-gotten-any Durbin unhappy about compromises in immigration bill http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-unhappy-about-compromises-immigration-bill-107988 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DurbinIMMG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met Monday with Latino immigrant community leaders in Chicago to discuss immigration reform, at times responding to some heated criticism of the bill he helped steer through the Senate last month.</p><p>In just two days, U.S. House Republicans plan to meet to figure out how to tackle the issue.</p><p>More than once, Durbin said he was unhappy about some compromises he made in order to come up with, and pass, SB 744. Durbin was one of the so-called &ldquo;Gang of Eight&rdquo; senators who drafted the legislation. In particular, he recalled how he felt about a final amendment that added 20,000 border patrol agents and called for the completion of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican line -- two measures that helped win the 68-32 vote on the bill.</p><p>&ldquo;Alright, I&rsquo;m going to just close my eyes and grit my teeth and I&rsquo;m going to vote on more damn money on that border than I could ever possibly explain or rationalize,&rdquo; Durbin said of the vote.</p><p>At one point during the invitation-only event, co-sponsored by the Latino Policy Forum and the University of Illinois at Chicago, women at one table began silently holding up signs as Durbin spoke.</p><p>&ldquo;Your &lsquo;pathway&rsquo; = genocide,&rdquo; read one of them, referring to the 13-year pathway to citizenship that the Senate bill offers to many immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally.</p><p>Things escalated briefly when one audience member interjected, during the Q&amp;A session, that the Senate bill &ldquo;is a bill not for poor people,&rdquo; referring to its requirement that immigrants earn at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level to remain on a pathway toward citizenship.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll tell you what&rsquo;s not for poor people: The current situation is not for poor people,&rdquo; Durbin responded, angrily. &ldquo;How would you like to be part of the 12 million people undocumented in this country, subject to deportation at any minute, having to work off the books, hoping that when you get picked up in front of the Home Depot and promised you&rsquo;re going to get $25 at the end of the day, they won&rsquo;t push you out of the car?&rdquo;</p><p>Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are slated to meet Wednesday to discuss their party&rsquo;s strategy on immigration reform.</p><p>So far, the House approach to immigration reform has been unclear. They appear unlikely to take up the Senate bill. A bipartisan group of seven Congressmen have drafted their own comprehensive bill, which the lawmakers may take up. Alternatively, the House may pass several pieces of legislation in a piecemeal approach.</p><p>Durbin said Monday that whatever the House passes, he&rsquo;ll work with, as long as it preserved a pathway to citizenship.</p><p>&ldquo;If the House Republicans come back and say we&rsquo;ll let them stay here legally but not become citizens, no way,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Look at France. Look at the countries that try to embed within their population some group that is not a citizens group. It is an invitation for division, an invitation for social disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>The issue of a pathway to citizenship remains deeply divisive among House members. Some say it amounts to amnesty, and have instead proposed a pathway to legalization, rather than full citizenship.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-42709e17-c091-6561-ddb8-4bb0285dfe3d"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </span><a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@oyousef</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and </span><a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@WBEZoutloud</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></span></p></p> Mon, 08 Jul 2013 18:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-unhappy-about-compromises-immigration-bill-107988 Gay rights groups bristle at being excluded from immigration bill http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/durbin_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some Illinois gay rights advocates say they feel betrayed by their Democratic allies because same-sex couples aren&rsquo;t legally recognized in an immigration overhaul bill that&rsquo;s headed to the floor of the U.S. Senate next month.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/immigration/amendments/Leahy/Leahy7-%28MDM13374%29.pdf" target="_blank">provision</a> to recognize so-called bi-national same-sex couples was dropped from the bill at the last minute on Tuesday, just before it was approved, 13 to 5, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.</p><p>Some Senate Republicans had warned the amendment would sink the larger immigration bill. That apparently prompted some Democrats who traditionally back gay rights issues, including Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, to urge his colleagues to leave the language relating to gay couples out of the bill.</p><p>&quot;I believe in my heart of hearts that what you&#39;re doing is the right and just thing,&quot; Durbin said at Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing. &quot;But I believe this is the wrong moment, that this is the wrong bill.&quot;</p><p>Recognition of a same-sex relationship in federal immigration law would mean that marriage or civil unions could be grounds to grant legal status to an immigrant spouse, or to prevent their deportation. Federal law currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, although the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the issue.</p><p>Its exclusion from the Senate bill, after months of lobbying lawmakers, prompted a backlash from Illinois gay rights advocates.</p><p>&ldquo;My initial reaction is anger. Anger that, again, we get scapegoated,&rdquo; said Julio Rodriguez, chair of the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not only a tragedy, but I think it&rsquo;s a sad statement on the part of our allies, and the relationships that I think we believed that we had,&rdquo; Rodriguez said.</p><p>Despite the setback, activists will continue to lobby lawmakers to include recognition for gay couples in a later amendment to the bill in the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state&rsquo;s largest gay rights advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the right bill and this is the right time,&rdquo; Cherkasov said Wednesday. &ldquo;You know, this is a comprehensive immigration reform. This could be the only chance we have in a decade, if not in a generation, to fix all the problems of our broken immigration system.&rdquo;</p><p>The pressure from gay rights groups puts Illinois&rsquo; two senators in a difficult political position. Durbin is a liberal Democrat who has traditionally enjoyed support from the gay rights community, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk recently bucked his own party to announce his support for same-sex marriage.</p><p>But Durbin didn&rsquo;t immediately respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s interview request Wednesday. And Kirk&rsquo;s office declined to comment on whether he supports recognition of same-sex couples, saying that he&rsquo;s still reviewing the bill.</p><p>The news comes as a blow to the estimated 267,000 gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, according to one <a href="http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/us-lgbt-immigrants-mar-2013/" target="_blank">recent study</a>.</p><p>The lack of legal recognition puts that group in limbo, said Phillip Knoll, a 31-year-old Chicagoan who has been dating his boyfriend, who came to the United States from Singapore on a student visa, for the last five years. The legal uncertainty makes it hard to plan for their future together, Knoll said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s weird to have to consider whether or not you&rsquo;re able to make the sort of decision that&rsquo;s really personal, and that something political has to happen first,&rdquo; Knoll said. &ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s an odd way to think of yourself.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Knoll said he and his partner remain optimistic that they&rsquo;ll stay together geographically. But down the road, Knoll said his boyfriend&rsquo;s immigration status could affect their decision to marry &ndash; or even to leave the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;And it would feel like getting pushed out, right?&rdquo; Knoll said.&rdquo; I think it would feel like we were not welcome in the country [where] I was born, and in a country that he&rsquo;s been welcome as a student. Why can&rsquo;t he stay and contribute?&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a></em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 Deportation protesters use ‘lockboxes,’ slam Durbin http://www.wbez.org/news/deportation-protesters-use-%E2%80%98lockboxes%E2%80%99-slam-durbin-107166 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Stephanie%20Camba%201%20scale.jpg" title="Stephanie Camba, right, and six other unauthorized immigrants on Tuesday block a street near a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Broadview, a suburb of Chicago. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></p><p>Police sawed through plastic pipes on Tuesday&nbsp;to pry apart seven protesters at an immigration detention center near Chicago. The protesters, all in the United States without legal permission, demanded a halt to deportations as Congress considers allowing most of the country&rsquo;s 11 million unauthorized immigrants to apply for legal status.</p><p>President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration has increased deportations to roughly 1,100 a day, a record pace. Removals have continued as the Senate Judiciary Committee works on a sweeping immigration bill drafted by a bipartisan group that includes Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). The protesters called on Durbin to push Obama to suspend the removals.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had over a million families separated because of deportations,&rdquo; said protester Stephanie Camba, 22, a Filipina who said her parents brought her to the United States when she was 11 years old. &ldquo;This bill is not enough if it&rsquo;s not going to stop deportations. It should be deportations being stopped first.&rdquo;</p><p>The protesters, backed by about 100 supporters, held each other using chains and locks inside three-foot segments of polyvinyl chloride tubes &mdash; civil-disobedience setups knowns as &ldquo;lockboxes.&rdquo; The protesters sat down in a street to block vehicles from the center, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in suburban Broadview.</p><p>ICE holds immigrants awaiting deportation in the center before loading them into vans and buses that carry them to flights from Chicago&rsquo;s O&rsquo;Hare International Airport.</p><p>A statement from Durbin&rsquo;s office in response to the protest says the senator was &ldquo;instrumental in pushing the administration&rdquo; to allow many young unauthorized immigrants to apply for work papers and a deportation reprieve under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama policy initiated last year.</p><p>Durbin, the statement adds, is also working on the immigration bill as a member of the Senate panel. &ldquo;The hope is that next month the full Senate will begin debate on this common-sense, compromise proposal that will provide millions of immigrants with an accountable path to citizenship,&rdquo; the statement says.</p><p>After police cut through the pipes, Broadview officers arrested the protesters, charged them with disorderly conduct and released them.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 18:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/deportation-protesters-use-%E2%80%98lockboxes%E2%80%99-slam-durbin-107166 Where was Senator Dick Durbin at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/durbin mid 30s (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>At 68 years old, Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin is one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. First elected to the Senate in 1996, Durbin now serves as the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate.</p><p>His memories of being 25, however, might be classified as his more humble beginnings.</p><p>Durbin was a young father and husband&mdash;he had one young daughter, with another baby on the way. He was graduating from Georgetown Law School and had just accepted a job offer in then Lt. Governor Paul Simon&rsquo;s office in Springfield.</p><p>And, as he&rsquo;ll tell you himself, he had hardly any money to his name.</p><p>&ldquo;I skipped my graduation ceremony,&rdquo; Durbin recalls. &ldquo;I needed to get on to payroll and get a paycheck so fast that I just skipped it and said send me the diploma in the mail.&rdquo;</p><p>So, he packed up a U-Haul truck with his few belongings and his Newfoundland dog (the dog&#39;s full name, for the record, was Johann Sebastian Black. Durbin says they called him Bassy, for short. He didn&rsquo;t explain further.) and headed across the country to Springfield. His brother followed the U-Haul in Durbin&rsquo;s old Volkswagon.</p><p>Durbin says he spent his last dime putting his wife and baby on a plane, so he spent the nights of this road trip in the back of the U-Haul with his brother and Bassy.</p><p>He thinks even the people who know him well now would be pretty surprised to hear how poor he was when he was 25.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ&rsquo;s morning producer and reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 14:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104 Kirk holds first public appearance since stroke http://www.wbez.org/news/kirk-holds-first-public-appearance-stroke-107016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS5453_Sen. Kirk_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In his first public appearance since suffering from a stroke last year, Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R) attested to the progress he has made through rehabilitation, and chimed in on a number of political issues that have been simmering in Washington and Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">The junior Senator sat in a wheelchair as he spoke with media outlets at the LEARN Public Charter School near North Chicago in Lake County on Friday. Next to him were Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) and Illinois Congressman Brad Schneider (D-10th).</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My standard walk for rehab was from my house to the Fort Sheridan (water) tower, which is about a block, and it always took 18 minutes,&rdquo; Kirk said on Friday, &ldquo;and yesterday, it took eight (minutes). So it&rsquo;s much, much faster.&rdquo; The stroke impaired movements particularly on the left side of Kirk&rsquo;s body, and kept him off Capitol Hill for a year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Part of my mission is to tell everybody in Illinois, &lsquo;If you have a mom or a dad who goes through a stroke, that if they get depressed one day to call me and I&rsquo;ll get them up and turn them around,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Kirk also chimed in on the immigration overhaul that Durbin and others in the so-called &ldquo;Gang of Eight&rdquo; senators have introduced in Washington. He said he has spoken to one of the Republican leaders on that bill, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) about introducing an amendment to award citizenship to military veterans who have earned Combat Infantry or Combat Action badges.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My feeling is if you have fought with us, you are one of us,&rdquo; said Kirk. &ldquo;That is something that I&rsquo;ll seek to add to the bill.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He also said that he is withholding judgment on President Barack Obama&rsquo;s nomination of Chicago business executive Penny Pritzker to the Secretary of Commerce cabinet position until he has had a chance to speak with her. Kirk said he wants to hear about Pritzker&rsquo;s &ldquo;pro-business&rdquo; agenda.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 17:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/kirk-holds-first-public-appearance-stroke-107016 Low-wage worker advocates slam immigration overhaul’s visa plan http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-worker-advocates-slam-immigration-overhaul%E2%80%99s-visa-plan-106679 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ImmigrationGangOfEight.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed immigration overhaul that a group of U.S. senators including Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced Wednesday is worrying some advocates for low-wage Chicago workers.<br /><br />The advocates are pointing to a part of the plan that would bring foreign workers to the United States under a new program called the W Visa. The proposal, the advocates say, is short on resources for protecting the workers from wage theft, safety hazards and whistleblowing retaliation &mdash; problems that have plagued U.S. &ldquo;guest worker&rdquo; programs over the years.</p><p>&ldquo;What part of the legislation provides 3,500 new occupational safety monitors and wage inspectors?&rdquo; asked Arise Chicago organizer&nbsp;Jorge Mújica, referring to the number of new customs agents proposed by the bill. &ldquo;The plan only talks about hiring for border control,&rdquo; said Mújica, whose group focuses on workers at car washes, second-hand stores, embroidery shops and other sites.&nbsp;&ldquo;So no one can guarantee protections for the workers.&rdquo;</p><p>The W Visa program emerged last month from negotiations between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the nation&rsquo;s largest union federation. The program would admit up to 20,000 low-skilled foreign workers starting in 2015. The annual cap would grow to 75,000 by 2018. The number of visas would fluctuate, depending on data such as job openings and unemployment rates.<br /><br />Employers say the W Visa would provide their first good mechanism for bringing in nonimmigrant workers for low-skilled jobs that are not seasonal. The industries could range from hospitality to meatpacking, laundries to home health care.&nbsp;The employers say they have a hard time finding workers already in the United States who are willing to fill certain positions and that raising wages to attract workers could put the companies out of business.</p><p>The bill would create a new agency, dubbed the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, within the Department of Homeland Security to manage the number of workers who come annually. The agency would also handle complaints about employers.<br /><br />In the negotiations, unions tried to limit any new influx of low-wage foreign workers into the U.S. labor market and to distance the W Visa program from an existing &ldquo;guest worker&rdquo; system that leaves many of the foreigners vulnerable to abuses.</p><p>AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the W Visa will neither tie the workers to a single employer nor drag down the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. &ldquo;We have created a new model, a modern visa system that includes both a bureau to collect and analyze labor market data, as well as significant worker protections,&rdquo; Trumka said in a statement this month. &ldquo;We expect that this new program, which benefits not just business, but everyone, will promote long overdue reforms by raising the bar for existing [visa] programs.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Leone José Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative, predicts the Senate bill would let down the visa recipients.<br /><br />&ldquo;In my experience with agricultural guest-worker programs, you have all of these protections in place and on paper,&rdquo; said Bicchieri, who worked for years as a farmworker organizer before joining the collaborative, which advocates for temporary workers. &ldquo;Now imagine having hundreds of thousands of [W Visa] workers all across the United States. And these workers are not talking with [government] monitors every day. There&rsquo;s not enough money to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re talking with supervisors whose job is to make sure they pick the crop or cut the meat or clean the room,&rdquo; Bicchieri added. &ldquo;And these supervisors are constantly shouting at these workers, saying things like, &lsquo;You better hurry up or this is the last time you&rsquo;ll come back and work on any of these programs and I&rsquo;ll make sure your cousins and any family member in your hometown never get accepted to come back.&rsquo; &rdquo;<br /><br />Durbin&rsquo;s office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday did not comment on whether the W Visa program&rsquo;s labor protections were sufficient.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a> and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Apr 2013 10:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-worker-advocates-slam-immigration-overhaul%E2%80%99s-visa-plan-106679 CTA's Ventra fare scheme suffers riders' blowback http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/ctas-ventra-fare-scheme-suffers-riders-blowback-106040 <p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-critics-cta-favors-profits-over-poor-20130311,0,4375730.story" target="_blank"><img alt="Quincy Station, Brown Line to Kimball, (vincent desjardins, on Flickr)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CTA%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Quincy Station, Brown Line to Kimball, (vincent desjardins, on Flickr)" /></a><b>&#39;THIS IS NO MORE THAN A DOG AND PONY SHOW.&#39;</b> That&#39;s one CTA rider&#39;s protest, as quoted in the <i>Tribune</i>, at <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-critics-cta-favors-profits-over-poor-20130311,0,4375730.story" target="_blank">last night&#39;s hearing on a new fare payment system set to take effect this summer</a>, if the CTA board OKs it in a vote Wednesday.<br />-- <i>DNAinfo.com Chicago</i>: <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130311/chicago/red-light-cameras-issuing-parking-tickets-city-asks-bidders-for-details" target="_blank">Chicago considers using red-light cams to spot parking violators.</a></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>GOOD AND WET.&nbsp;</strong>Yes, Chicago&#39;s winter has become wetter than usual. Yes, that&#39;s good news for farmers. No,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18785057-761/recent-snow-rain-is-good-news-for-illinois-farmers.html" target="_blank">it&#39;s not good for people who live near rivers</a>, as the&nbsp;<em>Sun-Times</em>&nbsp;explains.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>&#39;THE MEDIA&#39;S GREATEST FAILURE IN MODERN TIMES.&#39;</b>&nbsp;Newsweek&#39;s Washington bureau chief, Howard Kurtz says reports questioning the evidence or rationale for war in Iraq&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/11/opinion/kurtz-iraq-media-failure/index.html" target="_blank">&quot;were frequently buried, minimized or spiked.&quot;</a><br />* Conservative website&nbsp;<a href="http://www.breitbart.com/" target="_blank">Breitbart.com</a>&nbsp;falls for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/03/11/breitbart_the_daily_currant_conservative_outlet_tricked_by_same_satirical.html" target="_blank">a parody website&#39;s report that Paul Krugman of&nbsp;<i>The New York Times</i>&nbsp;filed for bankruptcy</a>.&nbsp;<br />* Song celebrates&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/look-whats-happened-to-women-of-fox-news/" target="_blank">&quot;the girls on Fox News.&quot;</a></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>HISTORIC DECISION.</b>&nbsp;In what could be a break for Senate Democrats, Dick Durbin&#39;s decided to run for another term, which could make him <a href="http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/in-a-break-for-senate-democrats-durbin-to-run-for-re-election-in-illinois/" target="_blank">the first Illinois Democrat to win four terms</a>.<br />* &quot;Ward Room&quot; blog: &quot;Durbin is so popular <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Durbin-History-Re-election-196949721.html#ixzz2NGQlLf9s" target="_blank">he&rsquo;ll win even if he&rsquo;s caught robbing Lincoln&rsquo;s Tomb</a>.&quot;</span></p><hr /><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);"><em style="font-family: georgia, serif;">Get this blog by email, free.&nbsp;</em></span><em style="font-family: georgia, serif;"><a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);">Sign up here</span></a></em><span style="color: rgb(165, 42, 42);"><em style="font-family: georgia, serif;">.</em></span></span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>VATICAM. </strong>Watch <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/videogallery/74761998/live/Watch-live-Cardinals-meet-to-elect-new-pope" target="_blank">live video from the Vatican</a> for a sign the new pope has been chosen.<br />* Eric Zorn: <a href="http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2013/03/who-might-be-the-next-pope-i-dont-care.html" target="_blank">&quot;Who <i>might</i> be the next Pope? I don&#39;t care!&quot;</a></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>&#39;MY 9-YEAR-OLD SAID: &quot;WHERE, BACK TO THE SLAMMER?&quot;&#39;</b>&nbsp;Ex-Cub Mark Grace says that, when he has to leave early to return to his work-release sentence at an Arizona jail,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-spt-0312-cubs-mark-grace-chicago--20130312,0,6063500.story" target="_blank">his son gets it.</a></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>ARE YOU WHAT YOU LIKE?</b> A new <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/03/06/1218772110.full.pdf+html" target="_blank">report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a> concludes <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/la-fi-tn-on-facebook-you-are-what-you-like-says-scientific-study-20130311,0,6158934.story" target="_blank">your Facebook &quot;likes&quot; reveal a lot about your personality</a>.<br />* Simpler test on Web <a href="http://youarewhatyoulike.com/" target="_blank">diagnoses personality with a single click</a>. (Approach with caution: It found this blogger &quot;shy and reserved.&quot; Also -- snicker if you will -- &quot;well organized.&quot;)</span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em></span><br /><em style="font-family: georgia, serif;">* Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.</em><br /><em style="font-family: georgia, serif;">* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.<br />* Looking for the most recent WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">Here you go</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/ctas-ventra-fare-scheme-suffers-riders-blowback-106040 Gun victims, academics join Senate firearms clash http://www.wbez.org/news/gun-victims-academics-join-senate-firearms-clash-105480 <p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; The toll of gun violence and the widespread disgust it has generated makes it time for new federal gun curbs that balance public safety with gun rights, Democrats said Tuesday at the Senate&#39;s latest hearing on restricting firearms.</p><p>Republicans said today&#39;s unenforced gun laws give criminals no reason to fear ignoring those laws. And they warned that the Constitution&#39;s right to bear arms must be protected, even after unspeakable events like the December slaughter of 20 first-graders in Connecticut.</p><p>Each side trotted out their own legal experts, statistics and even relatives of people slain by gun-wielding assailants. In the end there was little partisan agreement, though Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said cooperation was possible on stopping straw purchases, in which someone legally buys a gun for a criminal or a person barred from owning one.</p><p>As always with guns, emotion and the issue&#39;s personal impact colored the day&#39;s session.</p><p>The crowded hearing room was filled with people from gun control groups and according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., included relatives of some killed in the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee holding the hearing, asked friends and families of gun victims to stand, and dozens rose.</p><p>&quot;We know that we have to act,&quot; Durbin said.</p><p>At another point, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., began his questioning of the panel&#39;s first witness, Timothy J. Heaphy, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Virginia and an appointee of President Barack Obama, with one question: &quot;Do you own a gun?&quot;</p><p>&quot;No,&quot; responded Heaphy, who said, &quot;I do not feel comfortable having a gun in our home&quot; because he has children.</p><p>One witness, Suzanna Gratia Hupp, told the senators of being in a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, in 1991 when a gunman smashed his truck through the front window and fatally shot 23 people, including her parents. Hupp says she left her gun in her car because Texas law barred her from bringing it into the restaurant.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t view myself as a victim of gun violence,&quot; said Hupp, now a Texas state official and gun rights advocate. &quot;I view myself as a victim of a maniac who happened to use a gun as a tool. And I view myself as the victim of the legislators we had at the time who left me defenseless.&quot;</p><p>Taking the opposing view was Sandra J. Wortham, whose brother, Chicago police officer Thomas E. Wortham IV, was fatally shot outside their parents&#39; home by robbers in 2010, though he and his father, a retired police sergeant, fired back.</p><p>&quot;The fact that they were armed that night didn&#39;t prevent Thomas&#39; murder,&quot; said Wortham, now a Chicago police official.</p><p>The hearing came just hours before Obama was to deliver his annual State of the Union address, in which he was expected to repeat his call for gun curbs.</p><p>Obama has proposed banning assault weapons and ammunition magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds, and wants background checks for all firearms purchases. Currently, the checks are required only for sales by federally licensed gun dealers, omitting the many transactions at gun shows and between individuals.</p><p>Democrats have been more receptive to Obama&#39;s proposals than Republicans, most of whom &mdash; along with the National Rifle Association &mdash; have opposed them. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., hopes to write legislation in the next few weeks that is expected to include expanded background checks and a gun-trafficking prohibition, but not bans on assault weapons or high capacity magazines, which have gotten less support.</p><p>Cruz, top Republican on the panel, expressed sympathy for gun victims but said constitutional rights must be protected &quot;not just when they&#39;re popular, but especially when passions are seeking to restrict and limit those rights.&quot;</p><p>In the battle of statistics, Cruz said that of the six cities with the nation&#39;s highest murder rates, five &mdash; Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago &mdash; have tough anti-gun laws. Only Memphis, Tenn., has less vigorous firearms controls, he said.</p><p>Responding to Cruz, Heaphy, the U.S. attorney, said there are too many factors that influence crime to conclude that strict gun measures don&#39;t work.</p><p>Graham said that of 80,000 federal background checks for gun purchases turned down annually by the FBI, barely any result in prosecutions. He said the odds of being prosecuted for lying on a background check are &quot;probably a whole lot less than being struck by lightning or hit by a meteor.&quot;</p><p>Democrats cited the 11,000 Americans killed annually by gunfire.</p><p>Daniel W. Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, which favors tighter gun control laws, said that 2004 data showed that nearly 8 in 10 prisoners who committed gun-related crimes got firearms from unlicensed private sellers, whose transactions do not require background checks. That, he said, underscored the need to expand those checks to all sales.</p><p>Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal Harvard Law School professor, said that 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court rulings made it clear that sweeping proposals to flatly take guns away from citizens &quot;have been decisively taken off the table.&quot; Banning assault weapons and other especially lethal firearms would not violate the Second Amendment&#39;s right to bear arms, he said.</p><p>But conservative attorney Charles J. Cooper, who has long defended gun rights and represented the NRA, said the court&#39;s rulings ensure that bearing arms &quot;is not to be treated as a second-class right, or singled out for special or unfavorable treatment.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 09:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gun-victims-academics-join-senate-firearms-clash-105480