WBEZ | undocumented immigrants http://www.wbez.org/tags/undocumented-immigrants Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en El Milagro en Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/el-milagro-en-indiana-112212 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/El-Milagro-en-Indiana.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Twenty-three year old Maria sits at her kitchen table as her young daughter reads a book to her. WBEZ agreed not to use Maria&rsquo;s last name because she and her husband entered the country illegally eight years ago.</p><p>Maria doesn&rsquo;t understand English but just being able to sit up and listen is a feat in and of itself. And she can do other things now.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m able to walk. I&rsquo;m able to exercise. I can eat anything I want. I can do everything,&rdquo; Maria says in her native Spanish.<br /><br />Just a couple of months ago, all the mundane activities that most people take for granted, like washing the dishes and other household chores, were impossible for her to do.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because Maria was very sick.</p><p>She says she always felt weak, even as a young girl in her native Michoacan, Mexico. Then two years ago, Maria found out her kidneys weren&rsquo;t working and she needed emergency dialysis.</p><p>&ldquo;I was living because of the dialysis. Three days a week for three hours. I came out feeling very tired and dizzy. I just didn&rsquo;t feel well,&rdquo; Maria said.</p><p>Eventually, she was told by doctors she needed a new kidney. Under normal circumstances, getting an organ transplant is a dicey proposition. But Maria&rsquo;s immigration status made it even more difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;I was going to look for a donor and put my name on a waiting list but they couldn&rsquo;t because I&rsquo;m undocumented,&rdquo; Maria said.</p><p>It was a tough pill to swallow.</p><p>&ldquo;She just told me she was going to die,&rdquo; said Jose Bustos, director of Casa Santo Toribio in East Chicago, Indiana. &ldquo;When you hear a 21, 22 year old young lady tell you that she&rsquo;s going to die and she&rsquo;s afraid that she&rsquo;s not going to be able to see her family in Mexico, it&rsquo;s heartbreaking, it&rsquo;s heartbreaking.&rdquo;</p><p>Casa Santo Toribio is a center dedicated to serving the region&rsquo;s undocumented immigrant community. It&rsquo;s part of St. Mary&rsquo;s Catholic Church in East Chicago, a small industrial city that sits a few miles south of Chicago&rsquo;s border with Indiana.</p><p>Maria arrived there seeking assistance and to attend Mass with her family. She reached out to Bustos and other parishioners when she became ill.</p><p>Bustos started searching for a donor within the congregation who might be a biological match. There was no one, but Maria didn&rsquo;t give up hope.</p><p>&ldquo;I have faith in God and the Virgin Mary. And I would always ask to give me another opportunity,&rdquo; Maria said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s when word got to St. Mary&rsquo;s Pastor, Father Stephen Gibson.</p><p>&ldquo;I knew nothing about it. We just wanted to help her and so I and others investigated what was her blood type and things like that,&rdquo; Gibson said. &ldquo;And, I decided to do it just out of curiosity.&rdquo;</p><p>Father Gibson has been the pastor at St. Mary&rsquo;s for 20 years. The Oak Park native comes from a large Irish-Catholic family. Most of his 12 brothers and sisters are in religious life. He also happens to be a second cousin to the actor Mel Gibson.</p><p>But being that Gibson isn&rsquo;t Latino, Jose Bustos didn&rsquo;t think the priest could help.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I said &lsquo;Father, I&rsquo;m Mexican &mdash; and we didn&rsquo;t match. What makes you think, a Caucasian person, that you are going to match?&rsquo;&rdquo; Bustos said he told Gibson.</p><p>But, as they say, the Lord works in mysterious ways.</p><p>&ldquo;[My doctor] sent me a message saying this is from God, you&rsquo;re 100 percent compatible,&rdquo; Gibson said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Maria was shocked when she heard.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I was in dialysis when I got the news. I was crying over the news that I got a donor and that I have someone for the kidney,&rdquo; Maria said.</p><p>Gibson said he had no hesitation about going through with the operation.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to do it so when I found out I could, then there was no question. Not for the slightest moment,&rdquo; Gibson said.</p><p>The transplant was performed in April at Northwestern Memorial Hospital by Dr. Juan Caicedo. He says ethnicity doesn&rsquo;t determine who can donate and receive organs.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone, beneath our skin, we&rsquo;re the same. You can be African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Caucasian, all of us we&rsquo;re kind of similar under our skin,&rdquo; Caicedo said.</p><p>Caicedo, who heads Northwestern&rsquo;s Hispanic Transplant Program, says finding a willing donor is the toughest challenge.</p><p>&ldquo;The decision to help somebody else. You know, this doesn&rsquo;t happen every day. He&rsquo;s a priest. It&rsquo;s a huge act of love.&rdquo;</p><p>But others aren&rsquo;t so lucky.</p><p>About 100,000 people in the United States need an organ transplant every year, but fewer than one in five actually get one. In Illinois alone, 300 people die each year waiting for an organ.</p><p>Kevin Cmunt is president and CEO of Gift of Hope, a nonprofit network that secures organs in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. He says the half million undocumented immigrants living in the Chicago area actually helps increase the odds.</p><p>&ldquo;We all benefit when our entire community participates in donation, whether we&rsquo;re Caucasian, whether we&rsquo;re a citizen or noncitizen, we all benefit,&rdquo; Cmunt said. So, it&rsquo;s not that a non-citizen receiving an organ is taking one away from anyone. I see it as a larger pool of organs that frankly gives more people a chance to get transplanted.&rdquo;</p><p>But even if you find a donor, there&rsquo;s still the issue of how to pay for the operation.</p><p>In Illinois, a new law went into effect last fall as part of the state&rsquo;s Medicaid Reform Bill that pro-immigrant groups hailed as a victory.</p><p>It allows undocumented immigrants to be eligible for taxpayer-supported kidney transplants if they are on emergency dialysis. While some worry about the upfront cost, advocates say it will save money in the long run.</p><p>Cmunt says the law would probably benefit fewer than a hundred individuals since not all of the roughly 700 or so undocumented immigrants on emergency dialysis would be healthy enough to receive a transplant or have the means to pay for ongoing medication.</p><p>So far, Cmunt says, Illinois&rsquo; fiscal problems have hampered the law&rsquo;s overall effectiveness.</p><p>&ldquo;There have been very few patients transplanted under that. It hasn&rsquo;t been effective at all because no one is certain that it&rsquo;s going to receive funding next year,&rdquo; Cmunt said.</p><p>Maria was able to obtain private insurance coverage arranged through the efforts of Northwestern. Today, as she recovers from the procedure, she says she still lives in fear of being deported. But having a new kidney has changed everything.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The day after the transplant, you feel like life has returned to you. You have a new life,&rdquo; Maria said.</p><p>Following the transplant, Father Gibson did experience a few lingering side-effects but has now fully recovered. With that, he says he can now concentrate on raising funds for a new center to assist the undocumented community by offering citizenship classes and even arts programs for children.</p><p>Back at the church in East Chicago, parishioners like Jose Bustos call what happened an act of God.</p><p>&ldquo;El Milagro en Indiana. The miracle in Indiana,&rdquo; Bustos said. &ldquo;And, this miracle in Indiana gave a new lease to the life of this young lady.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Following him<a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/el-milagro-en-indiana-112212 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 Berwyn relaxes towing policy that hit immigrants especially hard http://www.wbez.org/news/berwyn-relaxes-towing-policy-hit-immigrants-especially-hard-106888 <p><p>A suburb west of Chicago is relaxing a tough car-towing policy because of its effects on immigrants.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CimagliaCROP.jpg" style="float: right; height: 371px; width: 250px;" title="Michael Cimaglia, a Berwyn police commander, met with immigrant advocates to hammer out the new policy. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An order signed by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/beyond-bungalows-berwyn%E2%80%99s-creative-side-105351">Berwyn</a> Police Chief James D. Ritz says the &ldquo;towing, impounding and seizing of a vehicle&rdquo; operated by an unlicensed driver &ldquo;may be decided by the use of officer discretion unless the vehicle is uninsured.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn officials say the order softens enforcement of a 2007 ordinance that allows the city to charge the unlicensed motorists $500, not including towing and storage costs, to recover impounded vehicles.</p><p>Berwyn was among several heavily immigrant Chicago suburbs that enacted strict towing measures before proposals to overhaul the nation&rsquo;s immigration laws stalled in Congress in 2007. The ordinances hurt immigrants who, because of their unlawful presence in the country, didn&rsquo;t qualify for an Illinois license.</p><p>&ldquo;We still don&rsquo;t condone people [breaking] the law and driving without a license,&rdquo; said Michael Cimaglia, a Berwyn police commander who met with immigrant advocates to hammer out a policy. &ldquo;However, we&rsquo;ve modified the policy so it&rsquo;s not as hard on some of the residents.&rdquo;</p><p>Berwyn now allows unlicensed motorists to turn over the car to a licensed driver or park it.</p><p>Immigrant advocates said Berwyn officials heard a message from Latino residents. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re here to stay,&rdquo; said Julie O&rsquo;Reilly Castillo of the Interfaith Leadership Project, which pressed for the policy. &ldquo;Respect us and be a little bit flexible because there are things beyond our control that leave people vulnerable.&rdquo;</p><p>Under an agreement with the advocates, Berwyn is also putting its entire police department &mdash; nearly 200 employees &mdash; through a three-hour training session focused on ethnic sensitivity. Cimaglia says the goal is more compassion for the city&rsquo;s immigrants.</p><p>About 60 percent of Berwyn&rsquo;s 56,657 residents are Latino, according to U.S. census figures. That population includes thousands &mdash; the exact number is unknown &mdash; who lack authorization to be in the United States.</p><p>The state of Illinois, meanwhile, is planning to begin issuing <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-allow-immigrants-get-licenses-105171">temporary driver&rsquo;s licenses</a> to unauthorized immigrants this fall.</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> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/berwyn-relaxes-towing-policy-hit-immigrants-especially-hard-106888 Conservative legal group challenges Cook County immigration policy http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-legal-group-challenges-cook-county-immigration-policy-106782 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP111129143637.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Invoking the Boston Marathon bombings, a national conservative group has filed a lawsuit aimed at a Cook County ordinance that requires jail personnel to disregard federal immigration detainers.</p><p>Washington-based Judicial Watch says the county has no legal right to ignore the detainers, which are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that local jails hold specified individuals up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require.</p><p>President Obama&rsquo;s administration says the detainers, which help ICE put the inmates into deportation proceedings, are crucial for focusing immigration enforcement on criminals.</p><p>Cook County officials say detainers also erode community trust in local police. In 2011, the County Board approved an ordinance that halted detainer compliance by the county&rsquo;s massive jail. ICE abruptly lost convenient access to hundreds of immigration violators each year.&nbsp;Lawmakers in other parts of the country, meanwhile, approved bills modeled after the policy.</p><p>The suit, which claims federal law preempts the ordinance, asks Cook County Circuit Court to strike down the local measure and compel Sheriff Tom Dart to comply with the detainers.&nbsp;The suit accuses Dart of &ldquo;failure to carry out his legal duties under both federal and state law.&rdquo;</p><p>At a Monday press conference Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton pointed to last week&rsquo;s news events. &ldquo;In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, there is a national-security component to these detainers by ICE.&rdquo;</p><p>Authorities say two Chechen immigrants &mdash; one a permanent-resident visa holder, the other a naturalized U.S. citizen &mdash; are suspected of having planted the bombs that exploded April 15 in Boston.</p><p>Judicial Watch is representing the suit&rsquo;s plaintiff, Chicago&nbsp;resident&nbsp;Brian McCann, who is the brother of a pedestrian killed in a 2011 hit-and-run collision in Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood. The alleged driver, a Mexican immigrant named Saúl Chávez, had a DUI conviction. He&nbsp;was arrested and charged with the hit and run. A Cook County judge set the bond at $250,000.</p><p>ICE suspected Chávez was in the country illegally and slapped a detainer on him. But after the county enacted the ordinance, Chávez posted $25,000&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;the required 10 percent of the bond. He walked free and went missing.</p><p>&ldquo;Dart is thumbing his nose at the federal government and replacing federal immigration priorities with Cook County&rsquo;s own immigration policy,&rdquo; Fitton said. &ldquo;Releasing these criminal aliens before they can be taken into custody by ICE endangers the public.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitton echoed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton, who have said the Cook County ordinance threatens public safety.</p><p>That claim was the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190" target="_blank">WBEZ investigation</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;found that inmates freed as a result of the ordinance had not reoffended or jumped bail more than other former inmates had.</p><p>Dart&rsquo;s office, in a statement late Monday, pointed to the sheriff&rsquo;s support for allowing the county to honor ICE detainers for inmates charged with violent offenses and inmates with a number of prior convictions.</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> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 16:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-legal-group-challenges-cook-county-immigration-policy-106782 Attorneys steer undocumented clients away from a citizenship path http://www.wbez.org/news/attorneys-steer-undocumented-clients-away-citizenship-path-105891 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP55053942139crop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 246px; width: 350px;" title="Immigrants take the U.S. oath of citizenship during a Jan. 28 naturalization ceremony in Irving, Texas. (AP/File)" />Some immigration attorneys say they are steering most undocumented clients away from a citizenship path created in the name of &ldquo;family unity&rdquo;&nbsp;by President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m telling most folks to wait and see how the rule is implemented before applying,&rdquo; veteran Chicago immigration lawyer Royal Berg said.</p><p>&ldquo;Any information the applicant gives to the government can be used against the individual,&rdquo; Berg added, &ldquo;and could result in the applicant being deported.&rdquo;</p><p>The Department of Homeland Security laid the path in a rule that took effect Monday. The rule enables eligible undocumented immigrants to receive a &ldquo;provisional unlawful presence waiver,&rdquo; known in some quarters as a PUP waiver, before leaving the United States to attend visa interviews at an American consulate in their country of origin.</p><p>To qualify for the waiver, according to the department, an applicant must be inadmissible to the United States &ldquo;only on account of unlawful presence.&rdquo; The immigrant must also show that going abroad and getting stuck there would create &ldquo;extreme hardship&rdquo; for a U.S. citizen spouse or parent.</p><p>Since 1996, the federal government generally has required visa applicants to wait 10 years outside the United States if they have spent more than a year in the country without authorization.</p><p>The administration proposed the rule last April at the urging of immigrant advocates. After receiving some 4,000 public comments about it, the department published the final version January 3.</p><p>Some immigration lawyers see the rule as a potential boon to mixed-status families.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re cautiously optimistic that this will be one way in which families can be reunified more quickly,&rdquo; said Lisa Koop, managing attorney of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, whose clients include many Mexican nationals. &ldquo;If you get the provisional waiver granted, you can go down to Mexico with some assurance that at least that ground of inadmissibility has been waived and you should be allowed to come back in.&rdquo;</p><p>A statement by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS agency receiving the applications,&nbsp;says it &ldquo;does not envision&rdquo; placing PUP waiver applicants in removal proceedings. But&nbsp;the Obama administration has made no promise that information gleaned from applications&nbsp;will not lead to any deportations.</p><p>Chicago immigration attorney Kevin Dixler sees other risks. He said PUP waivers would not ensure that immigrants could return to the United States&nbsp;if they had committed certain crimes in this country or &ldquo;falsely represented themselves to get a job.&rdquo;</p><p>Berg says he is advising clients to explore other options, including applying for work papers and a deportation reprieve under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy the Obama administration initiated last year. &ldquo;DACA is safer, quicker and less expensive, and leads to work papers without leaving the country,&rdquo; Berg said.</p><p>DACA has its own downsides for applicants, Koop pointed out. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not permanent,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a quasi-legal status that they&rsquo;re in for two years. Whereas, if they go through consular processing, when they come back into the United States they&rsquo;re lawful permanent residents, which means they have their green card and, in [a few] years, will be eligible to apply for citizenship.&rdquo;</p><p>Among other qualifications for the PUP waiver, an immigrant must be at least 17 years old, must be physically present in the United States, and must not be in deportation proceedings.</p><p><em>Follow <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 04 Mar 2013 18:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/attorneys-steer-undocumented-clients-away-citizenship-path-105891 Illinois to allow immigrants to get licenses http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-allow-immigrants-get-licenses-105171 <p><div><p><span id="_oneup">SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois is the fourth state to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver&#39;s license with a new law signed by the governor.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation Sunday surrounded by hundreds of supporters who say the measure will make Illinois&#39; roads safer and expand opportunities for undocumented immigrants.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Quinn says people need a way to get to work, drive to the doctor and drive their children to school. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the new law should serve as a model for the nation.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">New Mexico and Washington both issue licenses to undocumented immigrants, while Utah issues permits.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Illinois officials say the dissemination of the temporary licenses is expected to begin in October.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">The legislation was billed as a public safety measure and had bipartisan support.</span></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 27 Jan 2013 16:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-allow-immigrants-get-licenses-105171 U.S. rule to help thousands of Illinois immigrants http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration/us-rule-help-thousands-illinois-immigrants-104663 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Janet_Napolitano_cropscale.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 212px; width: 300px;" title="Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the change, which will shorten the path to lawful status for some foreign nationals who lack documents to be in the United States. (AP/file)" />In the name of family unity, the path to lawful status is about to get shorter for some immigrants who are in the United States illegally &mdash; including thousands of Illinois residents.</p><p>A rule that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday helps those who can show that separation from an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen would create &ldquo;extreme hardship.&rdquo; Starting March 4, the immigrants can apply for a U.S. visa without risking a long wait outside the country.</p><p>Since 1996, the federal government generally has required visa applicants to wait 10 years outside the United States if they have spent more than a year in the country without authorization.</p><p>President Obama&rsquo;s administration says it received more than 4,000 public comments about the rule after proposing it last April.</p><p>&ldquo;This final rule facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa,&rdquo; Napolitano said in a statement.</p><p>Immigrant advocates applauded the change.</p><p>Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, pointed out that the applicants would still need to leave the country to get the visa. &ldquo;But they could [return] to the United States in a matter of weeks as opposed to years,&rdquo; said Tsao, who helped gather comments supporting the rule.</p><p>Asked whether the rule would amount to a pardon for living in the United States without authorization, Tsao pointed to existing law: &ldquo;People who are married to &mdash; or parents of, or children of &mdash; U.S. citizens already qualify for lawful status.&rdquo;</p><p>To qualify under the rule, according to a Department of Homeland Security statement, an applicant must be inadmissible to the United States &ldquo;only on account of unlawful presence&rdquo; and must demonstrate that getting stuck outside the country would lead to &ldquo;extreme hardship to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent.&rdquo;</p><p>The Obama administration, without Congress, has recently helped other immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Under a program initiated last year, thousands who were brought to the country as children have received work papers and a deportation reprieve.</p></p> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 00:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration/us-rule-help-thousands-illinois-immigrants-104663 Joliet detention-center talks include private prison firm http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCA_hall.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px; " title="CCA owns and operates Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. The facility is one of many in which the company holds detainees for ICE. (AP File/Kate Brumback)" />A top Joliet official says his talks exploring possibilities for an immigrant detention center in the city have included the nation&rsquo;s largest private prison operator.</p><p>City Manager Thomas Thanas told WBEZ he had engaged in a &ldquo;preliminary conversation&rdquo; with officials of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to see &ldquo;whether Joliet might be a suitable site&rdquo; for a facility that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants in the Chicago area.</p><p>Thanas declined to say when and where the conversation took place or what details were discussed. &ldquo;We have not reviewed plans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Nothing has been filed on a formal basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Joliet officials are &ldquo;not talking about any specific sites at this point,&rdquo; Thanas said. He added that &ldquo;a facility like this could not be located near a residential area, schools or a commercial district.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas referred questions about site possibilities to CCA, whose spokesman referred inquiries to ICE, which declined to discuss the Joliet project.</p><p>The federal agency sent a statement that said building a Chicago-area detention center would help improve immigrant confinement conditions and enable &ldquo;locating detainees closer to where they are apprehended so that they can be near their families, community resources and the ICE field office.&rdquo;</p><p>What would Joliet get? &ldquo;Hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs,&rdquo; Thanas said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m always interested in projects that have an opportunity to create jobs and revenues for our school district.&rdquo;</p><p>Federal officials met with Thanas about the project October 17 in Washington, he said. &ldquo;It was a fact-gathering opportunity for both them and me.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas also briefed some City Council members about the detention-center possibility.</p><p>But officials managed to keep the project out of public view until the Chicago Tribune revealed it late Wednesday. Within hours, some Joliet activists and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights began organizing opposition.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t believe you should be making a profit off of tearing families apart because they&rsquo;re undocumented,&rdquo; said Richard Rodríguez, a Joliet resident who chairs the Mexican American Coalition of Will County. &ldquo;There should be comprehensive immigration reform. Address the issue properly.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas replied that national immigration policy was not Joliet&rsquo;s business. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a matter of federal concern,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s nine City Council members on Thursday declined to comment or did not return messages about the project.<br /><br />The Joliet talks follow a highly publicized setback for ICE and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run a 788-bed detention center. Village trustees rejected the plan June 11 after months of protests by residents, human-rights advocates and public-sector unions.</p><p>CCA had greater success in Springfield. The company lobbied against Illinois legislation that would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. The bill passed the Senate in March but stalled after a series of close House floor votes May 31.</p></p> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 After Obama immigration offer, college roommates weigh risks http://www.wbez.org/news/after-obama-immigration-offer-college-roommates-weigh-risks-103257 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F75048041" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSC_0295cropped.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 228px; width: 350px; " title="Northern Illinois University sophomores “Marissa Castillo,” left, and Elaine Rodríguez share an apartment in DeKalb, Illinois. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />President Barack Obama has an offer for many undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. Since Aug. 15, the Department of Homeland Security has been letting them apply for work papers and a deportation reprieve under a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. But the department says it had received fewer than 180,000 complete applications as of Oct. 10. That represents a small fraction of the 950,000 immigrants that, according to a Pew Hispanic Center estimate, could qualify immediately for the deferred action.</p><p>That got me wondering: What would keep people from applying? I&rsquo;m hearing about immigrants having trouble gathering documents to prove their eligibility. I&rsquo;m hearing about struggles to find affordable legal advice and scrape up the $465 application fee. But there&rsquo;s another factor: fear. Many immigrants are wondering how long the policy will remain in place and whether the application information will be used for immigration enforcement. Some are also wondering whether they can count on the Obama administration, which has deported people in record numbers.</p><p>I found a pair of young roommates bound up in these questions. Both women have immigrant parents. Both grew up in Chicago. And both are college sophomores. But just one has papers to be in the United States. That woman, a U.S. citizen, wants to convince her undocumented roommate to take up Obama&rsquo;s offer and send in the application. Their story revolves around trust, immigration status and who will have a future in the United States.</p></p> Fri, 19 Oct 2012 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-obama-immigration-offer-college-roommates-weigh-risks-103257 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986