WBEZ | Mark Curran http://www.wbez.org/tags/mark-curran Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff slams Secretary of State on driver's license rollout http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-slams-secretary-state-drivers-license-rollout-109216 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MarkCurran.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 233px; width: 275px;" title="Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is dragging its feet on setting up a driver’s license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally. (Photo courtesy of Lake County Sheriff’s office)" />A suburban Chicago sheriff says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White&rsquo;s office is dragging its feet on setting up a driver&rsquo;s license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally.<br /><br />Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran points out that White&rsquo;s office, which is launching a pilot phase of the program, is scheduling just 120 appointments a day for applicants to present their proof of state residence and take their driving exams.<br /><br />The pilot phase comes almost 10 months after Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure making as many as 500,000 immigrants in Illinois eligible for a &ldquo;temporary visitor&rsquo;s&rdquo; license.<br /><br />&ldquo;I would expect this type of a pace if the law passed in Alabama, where we have a hostile immigrant tone,&rdquo; said Curran, a Republican who pushed for the law. &ldquo;But, in Illinois, there was overwhelming support for this legislation.&rdquo;</p><p>White, a Democrat, announced his support for the measure but Curran is questioning the secretary of state&rsquo;s sincerity in light of the law&rsquo;s implementation. &ldquo;Actions sometimes speak louder than words,&rdquo; the sheriff said.<br /><br />Curran says the secretary of state&rsquo;s office should have set up the program faster because many of the immigrants are already behind the wheel. &ldquo;We want people to have taken a driver&rsquo;s test,&rdquo; Curran said. &ldquo;We want people to have insurance. We want people to understand the rules of the road.&rdquo;<br /><br />Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White, bristled at the criticism. &ldquo;It would be irresponsible and reckless for our office to roll out a program of this magnitude statewide without first thoroughly testing it,&rdquo; Haupt said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Keep in mind that the state of California has been given approximately two years to implement [a similar] program,&rdquo; Haupt said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had to set all of this up without any additional revenue provided by the General Assembly. To just open up facilities throughout the state without testing it and potentially have thousands upon thousands of individuals showing up at facilities wouldn&rsquo;t do anyone any good.&rdquo;<br /><br />Haupt says the appointment scheduling will get faster in mid-December. By February, he said, the secretary of state&rsquo;s office will offer the appointments at 36 facilities statewide.<br /><br />Another suburban sheriff who helped push the measure into law says the pace of its implementation doesn&rsquo;t bother him. &ldquo;If the program is rolling out slower than expected, I would rather see it done slowly and correctly than to push it and have it done fast and mistakes be made,&rdquo; said Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez, a Democrat.</p><p>But that approach will keep many immigrant drivers unlicensed for months to come. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been in the United States for 23 years,&rdquo; said a stay-at-home mother of Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side who drives her children to school and her father to dialysis appointments. &ldquo;We need that document to live well here,&rdquo; she said, asking that her name not be published.</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> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 13:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-slams-secretary-state-drivers-license-rollout-109216 Stalled immigration reform takes toll on Polish theater group http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/stalled-immigration-reform-takes-toll-polish-theater-group-109029 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Republicans immigration.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A small Polish theater company says they&rsquo;re another victim of stalled legislation on immigration reform. Teatr Brama Goleniow is regrouping after U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services denied eight of their company members visas to bring a stage production to the Logan Square/Avondale neighborhood.</p><p>The group had planned Chicago showings of Emotions in Sound &nbsp;in late September, a production they&rsquo;ve previously brought to the Ukraine, Peru, Scotland and Greece. But the U.S. visa snafu has delayed their plans to share the production with U.S. audiences.</p><p>&ldquo;In the beginning we applied for tourist visas,&rdquo; explained Jennifer Crissey, actor and project manager at Teatr Brama.</p><p>Crissey said she had been advised by officials at the U.S. embassy in Warsaw to apply for B-visas because their company was small, and did not view their intended travel as one that would yield commercial profit.</p><p>&ldquo;The actors going wouldn&rsquo;t be receiving salary, they wouldn&rsquo;t be getting paid to do this project,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Crissey said when the group went to the U.S. embassy in Warsaw for their visa interview in August, however, they were told that they should instead apply for artists&rsquo; visas.</p><p>&ldquo;So they essentially advised us one thing, and then changed their mind,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Crissey said that&rsquo;s when she asked the company&rsquo;s Chicago-based partner, Voice of the City, to sponsor their petition for P-3 visas, a class of visa specific to culturally unique artists and entertainers.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it was very evident in the application that this was geared for commercial exchanges on a scale that we just weren&rsquo;t doing,&rdquo; said Dawn Marie Galtieri, artistic director of Voice of the City, an arts alliance based in the Logan Square/Avondale neighborhood, &ldquo;so it started to make us very nervous.&rdquo;</p><p>Galtieri said she had to obtain a letter from the American Guild of Musical Artists to support their petition, as well as provide additional paperwork attesting to the wages and hours of the actors, contracts detailing the parameters of the production, and flyers and press releases about the show.</p><p>&ldquo;Really, it&rsquo;s a process for big stars,&rdquo; Crissey said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s when some big name comes from another country to play here, and they&rsquo;re playing at like United Center or some big stage like that.&rdquo;</p><p>Crissey estimated that in total, Teatr Brama spent nearly $3,000 in applying for the visas. Still, they were denied.</p><p>&ldquo;And I never in a million year thought that after providing them with all of the evidence that they asked for that we would get such an empty answer like, &lsquo;this isn&rsquo;t culturally unique enough,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Crissey, &ldquo;because, who can be the judge of that?&rdquo;</p><p>Crissey and Galtieri said they are now cobbling together an ensemble of actors from Chicago and across Europe who have authorization to travel to the U.S., and that they plan to move forward with the production in the absence of the original cast.</p><p>The show will be staged in mid-November.</p><p>A representative from Congressman Michael Quigley&rsquo;s (D-Illinois) office said that if Congress had moved on immigration reform this summer, Teatr Brama&rsquo;s visa woes might not have happened.</p><p>Poland, unlike many of its European Union counterparts, is not included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. without first obtaining visas. Quigley and other members of Illinois&rsquo;s congressional delegation have &nbsp;been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-community-may-get-travel-perk-immigration-reform-107412">pushing to expand the parameters of the program</a> to include more countries, such as Poland.</p><p>In addition to a standalone bill that he has introduced in the House, Quigley also helped ensure that language to broaden the program be included in immigration legislation that the U.S. Senate passed in June.</p><p>Meanwhile, with just 18 days left in the House legislative calendar this year, pressure continues to mount for U.S. House Republicans to take up an immigration bill.</p><p>On Tuesday, hundreds of conservatives from business, faith and law enforcement groups converged on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to nudge them toward bringing legislation to the floor for a vote.</p><p>&ldquo;Ultimately, if you&rsquo;re going against this legislation, you are absolutely going against the entire faith community and you are also going against essentially what every respected economist in America has been asking for,&rdquo; said Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County.</p><p>Curran is among a handful of conservatives from Illinois joining the effort. The effort is organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>Earlier this month, House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration bill, after a bipartisan committee failed to produce its own bill. Congressman Jeff Denham (R-California) is the sole Republican to cosponsor the bill, along with 185 Democrats.</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> Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/stalled-immigration-reform-takes-toll-polish-theater-group-109029