WBEZ | Dick Durbin http://www.wbez.org/tags/dick-durbin Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Durbin defeats Oberweis, wins fourth term in Senate http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-defeats-oberweis-wins-fourth-term-senate-111048 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Durbin AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><style type="text/css"> <!-- .audio { color: #000000; font: 11px Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .body { color: #000000; font: 13px Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .byline { color: #003366; font: 12px Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .bytitle { color: #003366; font: 10px Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .byttl { color: #003366; font: bold 10px/12px Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .headline { color: #000000; font: bold 20px Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .newlinkcolor { color: white } .photo { color: #696969; font: 9px Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .storylink { color: #003366; font: bold 12px Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .tabletitle { color: #663333; font: bold 11px Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .textlabel { color: #663333; font: bold 11px Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } .video { color: #000000; font: 11px Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } p { color: #000000; font: 13px Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif }--> .eln-subhed-table { background-color: #fff; color:#333; font-family: "Raleway",Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; } .eln-state { display:none; } .eln-bodyregular, .eln-bodyreg-bar { color:#333; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; } .eln-bodyreg-bar { background-color: #f8f8f8; } .eln-office-name { font-family: "Raleway",Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; color:#444444; } .eln-date { color:#999; font-family: "Raleway",Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; } span.eln-bodyregular { font-size: 12px; }</style> <p>U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has defeated Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis to win a fourth term.</p><p>The U.S. Senate&#39;s second-ranking Democrat had been expected to keep the seat he&#39;s held since 1997. During the campaign he pushed for a higher minimum wage and tax breaks for companies that keep jobs in the country. He&#39;s said he helped bring billions of dollars in federal funds back to Illinois.</p><p>A spokesman says he&#39;d address supporters later Tuesday.</p><p>During the campaign, Oberweis called Durbin a career politician and accused him of losing touch with voters. The Sugar Grove dairy entrepreneur said he had the business background to create jobs.</p><p>He told supporters Tuesday it was difficult to beat an incumbent in Democrat-heavy Illinois and he&#39;d continue working for Republicans in the state Senate.</p><p><strong style="font-size: 18.3999996185303px; text-align: center;">Election Results</strong><script language="JavaScript" src="http://hosted.ap.org/elections/2014/general/by_race/IL_15800.js?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS"></script></p></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 11:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-defeats-oberweis-wins-fourth-term-senate-111048 Polling: How campaigns get the message http://www.wbez.org/news/polling-how-campaigns-get-message-110746 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/darkarts (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If political campaigns are horse races, then consider public opinion polls one way to set the odds.</p><p>But campaigns create and use polls for much more than the neck-and-neck numbers you hear on the news.</p><p>Maybe you&rsquo;ve already gotten one of these calls this election season: asking you to &ldquo;press one&rdquo; if you&rsquo;d like to vote for such-and-such a candidate, or &ldquo;press two&rdquo; for another.</p><p>Public polling is a voter&rsquo;s chance to weigh in. But what happens with this information - and exactly who is behind all this polling?</p><p>Gregg Durham heads up the suburban Oak Brook-based We Ask America polling, which has done work for politicians, news outlets and interest groups in Illinois and around the country.</p><p>It&rsquo;s his job to call up registered voters - some 12 million in 2012, Durham says - and take their temp on the candidates and issues of the day.</p><p>Good audio, believe or not, is important, lest people hang up. And asking questions in a specific order, as not to taint the polling pool, is key.</p><p>Getting people to stay on the phone has become a pretty big part of our democratic process. Public opinion polling isn&rsquo;t just used to predict who will win an election. It oils the modern campaign machine, helping it test different talking points, and form the messages most likely to influence voters on election day.</p><p>But all of that depends on the accuracy of the poll.</p><p>Durham points to Illinois&rsquo; super-tight 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, where State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard were neck-and-neck near the end.</p><p>&ldquo;I was Mr. Dillard&rsquo;s pollster, and I had to make that call and say, &lsquo;You&rsquo;ve got a problem here. This guy&rsquo;s catching you,&rsquo;&rdquo; Durham said. Durham predicted then that the election would be within 200 or 250 votes. Brady ended up <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/ElectionInformation/VoteTotalsList.aspx?ElectionType=GP&amp;ElectionID=28&amp;SearchType=OfficeSearch&amp;OfficeID=5064&amp;QueryType=Office&amp;">winning by 193</a>, only to narrowly lose the general election.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>So how do pollsters get so dead-on?</strong></span></p><p>Tom Bowen, a Democratic campaign strategist, says the absolute most important thing for accuracy is that the sample in the poll mirrors the make-up of the larger electorate - ideally, of the people who will actually vote on election day.</p><p>&ldquo;Think about how a pond would look with a bunch of fish in it,&rdquo; Bowen said. &ldquo;If you grabbed a whole bunch of fish out of the pond, you&rsquo;d have a pretty good idea of what the fish look like.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Bowen explains, that would not be a statistically accurate sample, &ldquo;because some fish are on the bottom. Maybe they&rsquo;ve just eaten and are resting, and some fish are hiding.&rdquo;</p><p>So before they blast out any phone calls, pollsters spend big money on demographic data to learn as much as they can about voters, based on where they live: whether they rent or own, whether they have health insurance or enjoy going to the movies.</p><p>After the poll, they run their results through a complex math equation to account for the inevitable imperfections in the sample. This process, called weighting, accounts for the over- or underrepresentation of certain folks who happened to answer the phone.</p><p>But the trophy for campaigns is not the horse-race number they may release to the public. It&rsquo;s the drilled-down data the rest of us usually don&rsquo;t get to see - the stuff that&rsquo;s used to craft the all-important campaign message.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about telling a voter something you want them to know. It&rsquo;s about reminding them about something they already know,&rdquo; Bowen said.</p><p>For example: In 2009, Bowen was running the congressional campaign for County Commissioner Mike Quigley, when he saw some surprising poll numbers.</p><p>They showed voters didn&rsquo;t really recognize Quigley by name, but they did recognize County Board President Todd Stroger - and they didn&rsquo;t like him.</p><p>So Bowen <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYDJ_z7TKk8">put together an ad</a> that touts Quigley as someone who had been &ldquo;taking on&rdquo; Stroger and his unpopular penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tYDJ_z7TKk8?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;One thing you&rsquo;ll notice about that ad, besides the fact that Todd Stroger was right in the front of it, was that Mike Quigley&rsquo;s name was used six times,&rdquo; Bowen said. &ldquo;So in order to stand out, this was sort of what the poll told us to run.&rdquo;</p><p>Quigley won handily. But sometimes, winning means knowing what not to talk about.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&lsquo;Explaining is losing&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>Democratic Campaign strategist Terrie Pickerill recalls a race where her candidate (she declined to name them) was late in paying property taxes, but the opponent had some ethical problems of his own. So she polled to see which would hurt more.</p><p>&ldquo;People just didn&rsquo;t care as much about just paying property taxes on time, but they really cared that this guy had ethical issues,&rdquo; Pickerill recalled.</p><p>So when her client was attacked over the property tax thing - and wanted to explain it by holding a press conference - she told them to stay quiet.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like, &lsquo;Look at the poll!&rsquo; This is much worse for him than it is for us,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Explaining is losing, so what we wanna do is say, the real issue is his ethics.&rdquo;</p><p>But there are also ethical issues for the pollsters, says Jason McGrath, a Democratic pollster who&rsquo;s worked for Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley, among others.</p><p>&ldquo;Good pollsters don&rsquo;t tell a candidate what to say,&rdquo; McGrath said. &ldquo;The political graveyard is scattered with failed candidates who try to be something they weren&rsquo;t. And it&rsquo;s not in our interest to use a poll to tell somebody to be something they&rsquo;re not.&rdquo;</p><p>McGrath says voters can sense when candidates are faking it. And dishonesty &nbsp;doesn&rsquo;t poll very well.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe"><em>Alex Keefe</em></a><em> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics"><em>Twitter</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/polling-how-campaigns-get-message-110746 Changing political history, in a closet near you http://www.wbez.org/news/changing-political-history-closet-near-you-110738 <p><p>Think of radio and TV campaign ads as the soundtrack of an election season: Deep and ominous voices sound the attack, while sugary and optimistic tones signal support for a candidate. &nbsp;</p><p>As part of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731">WBEZ&rsquo;s series on the &ldquo;dark arts&rdquo; of the campaign business</a>, we&rsquo;ll meet the people behind the voices trained to influence our democratic process.</p><p>As it turns out, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.</p><p>&ldquo;When I do voices for CBS Morning News or CBS Evening News or for Subway or for political campaigns or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house,&rdquo; Norm Woodel, a veteran Chicago-based voice-over artist, told me during a recent visit to his Lakeview home.</p><p>The closet is lined with heavy, velvet drapes to soak up any echos - and a high-end super-sensitive microphone. Woodel is 64 and portly, wearing a gray polo, camo shorts and sandals.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>This is where the magic happens</strong></span></p><p>In 2008, Woodel used this closet to voice <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kddX7LqgCvc">the famous &ldquo;3 a.m.&rdquo; ad</a> during Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s Democratic primary run against then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton&rsquo;s campaign ran it to underscore this idea that she was seasoned, reliable - and to suggest Obama was not.</p><p>Just hours after the ad ran - 1.6 miles away from Woodel&rsquo;s closet - another Chicago voice-over artist got a phone call of his own in his home studio, and the voice on the other end of the line was frantic.</p><p>Bill Price was getting an earful from his client - Barack Obama&rsquo;s presidential campaign - saying they had to respond to the Clinton ad immediately.</p><p>&ldquo;So we literally had 20 minutes for me to do a commercial, right here,&rdquo; Price told me recently as we sat in a small bedroom he&rsquo;s converted to a home studio. &ldquo;And they wanted it on the air for the evening news cycle.&rdquo;</p><p>These dueling ads epitomized the experience versus change narrative in the Democratic primaries. Pundits gobbled this up; &ldquo;Saturday Night Live&rdquo; even <a href="https://screen.yahoo.com/amy-poehler-snl-skits/3am-phone-call-000000995.html">did a parody</a> of the ad.</p><p>Such are the big political discussions ignited, in part, by the power of a human voice. The men and women behind those voices aren&rsquo;t just people who read stuff into a microphone.</p><p>They think of themselves as actors - artists - who use their voices like instruments to manipulate your emotions - which, in turn, can influence your vote.</p><p>And during election years, they don&rsquo;t sleep much.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Norm-Woodel---WBEZ-Alex-Keefe-crop.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 290px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="Voice-over artist Norm Woodel poses inside the closet-turned-home studio in Lakeview where he has read political ads for politicians such as Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&lsquo;You have no life&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>&ldquo;When you&rsquo;re doing voice-over work, it&rsquo;s almost as though you have no life, when you&rsquo;re doing political campaigns,&rdquo; said Wanda Christine Hudson, who has been doing voice-over work for more than four decades.</p><p>Wanda Christine - as she&rsquo;s known professionally - says working campaigns is a lot different than her usual commercial or video game voice-over gigs: Political season means abruptly cancelled lunch plans, sleeping by your phone and voicing ads in the dead of night.</p><p>But she says she likes the fast pace, the fickle campaign staffers, the challenge of using her full palette.</p><p>&ldquo;Because maybe the candidate didn&rsquo;t like that word, or maybe their campaign manager thought, maybe we want more smile in her voice, or maybe we want it to sound a little bit more serious, or maybe we want her to sound younger, or maybe we just want her to sound natural,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Those vocal acrobatics may sound easy to perform. But imagine having to talk like this on demand, with short notice - on a tight deadline.</p><p>Woodel, the 3.a.m. phone call guy, will say a little phrase to himself to get the right tone - he calls it a &ldquo;ramp.&rdquo;</p><p>To psych himself for tracking NFL commercials, he says to himself: &ldquo;To the men on the field it&rsquo;s a battle,&rdquo; then edits out those words.</p><p>When he had a hard time finding the right tough tone for a Chevy Silverado commercial, he used a ramp at the end: &ldquo;&lsquo;The most dependable, longest-lasting trucks on the road, asswipe.&rsquo; Just thinking that half-cuss word we put on the end, as a &lsquo;guy talk&rsquo; kinda thing, would get you to the toughness you need,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>But sometimes finding your voice takes more than just a little ramp. When Bill Price was voicing political ads for Obama&rsquo;s 2008 campaign, he invented this whole character.</p><p>&ldquo;[It was] like being the doctor who walks in the room, and there&rsquo;s parents there, and they&rsquo;re distraught &lsquo;cause their kid&rsquo;s really sick and think he&rsquo;s maybe gonna die,&rdquo; Price recalls. &ldquo;And then you&rsquo;re the doctor that gets to say, &lsquo;There&rsquo;s one last hope.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>For Wanda Christine - a black woman in a business where she says there aren&rsquo;t many - there&rsquo;s also personal history in her political voiceovers.</p><p>&ldquo;My great-grandmother was not allowed to vote,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My grandmother was not allowed to vote. Um, so I think about the things that they had to do to try to make a difference so that I could vote. That means something to me. And because it means something to me...I want it to mean something to whoever is making that decision based upon my voice.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Words as power</strong></span></p><p>The messages in these political ads - individual words, even - have been poll-tested and focus-grouped to find out which will hit you - the voter - in the most personal way possible.</p><p>Wanda Christine says it&rsquo;s also personal for many voice-over artists. She says she&rsquo;ll only do voice-over work for one party, though she wouldn&rsquo;t disclose which one. But the folks behind the other two voices we&rsquo;ve heard in this story made a personal political choice only to read for Democrats.</p><p>Bill Price thinks he just sounds more Democratic.</p><p>&ldquo;I think within my voice is more [about] second chances and hope and...even small miracles...than it is about justice,&rdquo; Price said. &ldquo;Maybe that&rsquo;s more of a Republican thing. I&rsquo;m more sentimental.&rdquo;</p><p>And for Norm Woodel, there is a bit of a gee-whiz factor.</p><p>&ldquo;After the President of the United States of America says, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m Barack Obama and I approve this message,&rsquo; I come on,&rdquo; Woodel said. &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t that wonderful?&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe"><em>Alex Keefe</em></a><em> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics"><em>Twitter</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/changing-political-history-closet-near-you-110738 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