WBEZ | undocumented immigrants http://www.wbez.org/tags/undocumented-immigrants Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gary mayor withdraws support for proposed immigration detention center http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-mayor-withdraws-support-proposed-immigration-detention-center-113748 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson is greeted by a shopper at Fresh County Market in Gary, Ind. as she campaigns on election day Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011. AP PhotoSun-Times Media, Stephanie Dowell.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>The mayor of Gary, Indiana is pulling her support for the building of a detention center to house undocumented immigrants in her city.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The lure of 200 to 300 new jobs for the struggling Steel City had been the rationale for Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson&rsquo;s initial support.</div><div>&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t just the jobs but it was infrastructure around the airport that we were going to have help with, along with tax base. These are taxpaying, corporate citizens,&rdquo; Freeman-Wilson told WBEZ late Wednesday evening. &ldquo;This was a very difficult decision.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The for-profit Florida-based prison company <a href="http://www.geogroup.com/" target="_blank">GEO Group</a> was looking at building a $65 million processing facility for undocumented immigrants just north of the Gary Chicago International Airport. The project could have generated up to $1 million in property taxes for a city that&rsquo;s struggling to pay its police and fire personnel and keep many of its public schools open.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But soon after it was announced, opposition began to swell.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-gary-geo-rezone-bid-st-1111-20151110-story.html" target="_blank">Opponents packed the Gary City Council chambers earlier this week </a>when the city&rsquo;s Board of Zoning Appeals was going to meet to discuss the issue. The board put off talking about GEO Group&rsquo;s proposal for another two weeks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the meantime, opponents began to develop plans for a protest march this weekend. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I understand Gary&rsquo;s situation. I understand the mayor is trying to find solutions to it but for a few gold coins, it&rsquo;s not right,&rdquo; said Antonio Barreda of the Community Coalition for Immigrants of Northwest Indiana.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gary has an unemployment rate of 18 percent, more than three times the state average at 4.5 percent. But Freeman Wilson, a former Indiana attorney general and civil rights attorney, says she began to share activists&rsquo; concerns.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The detention of individuals is not consistent with what I fought for in terms of civil and human rights,&rdquo; Freeman-Wilson said. &ldquo;I understand that it has to be done. I understand that there are folks who certainly ought to be deported but I just didn&rsquo;t think that was the type of economic development we wanted to see in the city of Gary.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since 2011, GEO Group has been trying to build an immigration processing center in the Chicago area without much success. Past attempts in south suburban Crete and in Hobart, just east of Gary, failed.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The GEO Group approached the City of Gary in search of a potential processing facility in an industrial area. &nbsp;While we are disappointed in the city&rsquo;s decision to withdraw from the potential opportunity, The GEO Group successfully operates safe and secure facilities all over the world and employs thousands of men and women in communities across the U.S. and overseas,&rdquo; Pablo Paez, Vice President of Corporate Relations for The GEO Group, stated in a news release. &ldquo;We look forward to continuing our efforts to identify and work with a partner in the region to bring new economic opportunities and provide the services the Federal government requires in this part of the country.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div><div><div property="content:encoded"><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente covers Northwest Indiana. Follow him on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 11:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-mayor-withdraws-support-proposed-immigration-detention-center-113748 Appeals court deals blow to Obama's immigration plan http://www.wbez.org/news/appeals-court-deals-blow-obamas-immigration-plan-113719 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obama_immigration_custom-736ffe3644f565465e50f2237116dc6cad6f0c2a-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455440370" previewtitle="It was about a year ago that President Obama announced executive actions that would shield millions of immigrants from deportation."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="It was about a year ago that President Obama announced executive actions that would shield millions of immigrants from deportation." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/10/obama_immigration_custom-736ffe3644f565465e50f2237116dc6cad6f0c2a-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="It was about a year ago that President Obama announced executive actions that would shield millions of immigrants from deportation. (Pool/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>(UPDATED AT 11:32 A.M. ET.)</p></div></div></div><p>A federal appeals court in New Orleans dealt President Obama a big blow on Monday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/15/15-40238-CV0.pdf">when it ruled</a>&nbsp;that Obama had overstepped his legal authority in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/11/20/365519963/obama-will-announce-relief-for-up-to-5-million-immigrants">attempting to shield</a>up to 5 million immigrants from deportation.</p><p>The Obama administration has vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Richard Gonzales filed this report for our Newscast unit:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;The 2-to-1 ruling upholds&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/02/17/386905806/federal-judge-blocks-obama-s-executive-actions-on-immigration">an injunction by a federal judge in Texas</a>&nbsp;who blocked President Obama&#39;s executive actions on immigration.</em></p><p><em>&quot;It was just about a year ago when the president announced his plan to allow parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to remain here and work without fear of deportation.</em></p><p><em>&quot;He also wanted to extend that protection to younger immigrants brought here as children. That plan was challenged by 26 states, led by Texas. The appellate court agreed that the president had overreached his authority.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Immigration activists argued that the president was acting within his authority.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>In a statement, Department of Justice spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said the department disagrees with the ruling.</p><p>&quot;The Department of Justice remains committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to allow DHS to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children,&quot; Rodenbush said.</p><p>At issue here is whether the executive actions fit within the powers of prosecutorial discretion granted to the executive branch.</p><p>A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Obama&#39;s executive action goes beyond merely saying that the executive would not try to deport these immigrants. Instead, the majority argues, Obama&#39;s executive action also allows those individuals to be &quot;lawfully present&quot; in the United States.</p><p>&quot;[Obama&#39;s immigration plan] is foreclosed by Congress&#39; careful plan; the program is &#39;manifestly contrary to the statute&#39; and therefore was properly enjoined,&quot; the two judges in the majority write.</p><p>In English, it means that the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 expressly lays out how and when an immigrant can legally remain in the country. The president, the court ruled, cannot unilaterally change that, even if Congress refuses to enact new immigration laws.</p><p>Another sticking point in this case is that the Obama administration argued that the court should not even be taking up this issue because it cannot review prosecutorial discretion action that the executive is making on a case-by-case basis.</p><p>The Obama administration argued that&#39;s how it would roll out this program, but the court dismissed that argument.</p><p>The lone dissenter in the case, Judge Carolyn Dineen King, writes that when the court dismissed that claim, it went way too far.</p><p>&quot;Although the very face of the Memorandum makes clear that it must be applied with such [case-by-case] discretion, the district court concluded on its own &mdash; prior to [the immigration program&#39;s] implementation, based on improper burden-shifting, and without seeing the need even to hold an evidentiary hearing &mdash; that the Memorandum is a sham, a mere &#39;pretext&#39; for the Executive&#39;s plan &#39;not [to] enforce the immigration laws as to over four million illegal aliens,&#39; &quot; King writes.</p><p>King concludes: &quot;I have a firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been made.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/10/455438464/appeals-court-deals-blow-to-obamas-immigration-plan?ft=nprml&amp;f=455438464" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 11:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/appeals-court-deals-blow-obamas-immigration-plan-113719 The online college that's helping undocumented students http://www.wbez.org/news/online-college-thats-helping-undocumented-students-113496 <p><div id="res449988979" previewtitle="Laptop computer handing out a diploma"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Laptop computer handing out a diploma" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/online-diploma2_slide-d94cec3a012f6d1de8a50673e694c98dc4b07acd-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 359px; width: 540px;" title="Laptop computer handing out a diploma. (LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><div><div>Federal law does not prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in college, but it does something nearly as effective, banning them from receiving government aid. In recent years, though, some undocumented students have stumbled upon a little-known, non-profit, online university that doesn&#39;t charge tuition and doesn&#39;t care about students&#39; legal status.</div></div></div><p>University of the People certainly got the attention of Miguel Angel Cruz. The 27-year-old entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico a decade ago. He settled near Tampa, Fla. where he now shares a small trailer with his father. Cruz learned English and earned his GED.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4661902832_d0e84343dc_b.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="(flickr/Dream Activist)" />But his dream of going to college was just that, a dream, because of the high cost. Then, he started searching online.</p><p>&quot;I was Googling, not for free but for cheaper universities, and I found the <a href="http://uopeople.edu/" target="_blank">University of the People</a>,&quot; Cruz says.</p><p>He had never heard of the school but had nothing to lose, except the $50 non-refundable admission fee he paid to enroll in the school&#39;s business administration course. A similar course at the University of South Florida, near his home, would have cost close to $1,100.</p><p>Cruz is precisely the kind of student Shai Reshef says he set out to help when he founded University of the People six years ago.</p><p>&quot;We have students from 170 countries,&quot; Reshef says. &quot;We have refugees, survivors of the earthquake in Haiti, the genocide in Rwanda. But about a quarter of our U.S. students are undocumented.&quot;</p><p>Reshef, an Israeli-born entrepreneur, made millions from several for-profit, online education ventures in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He says the idea for creating a tuition-free, online university came to him after spending time in several underdeveloped countries where most people have little or no access to higher education. Today, University of the People has 2500 students enrolled. Half are in the U.S.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">To our friends in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SouthAfrica?src=hash">#SouthAfrica</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/UoPeople">@UoPeople</a> is the solution! The 1st <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nonprofit?src=hash">#nonprofit</a>, tuiton-free, accredited, online university. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FeesMustFall?src=hash">#FeesMustFall</a></p>&mdash; UoPeople (@UoPeople) <a href="https://twitter.com/UoPeople/status/657171478425792512">October 22, 2015</a></blockquote><p>But what exactly are these students getting? Is this online school a realistic option for students facing so many hardships, poverty, and in the case of undocumented students, deportation? And what about the quality of the school&#39;s courses and instructors?</p><p>These were some of the questions that the Distance Education Accrediting Commission looked into during its three-year review of University of the People. In 2014, DEAC gave the school its &quot;stamp of approval.&quot;</p><p>The school has vowed to remain tuition-free, but students do pay $100 for every end-of-course exam &mdash; to help support its $1 million budget.</p><p>&quot;A four-year bachelor&#39;s degree will cost $4000 in total,&quot; Reshef says. &quot;For those who don&#39;t have the money, we offer scholarships.&quot;</p><p>Reshef says a quarter of the school&#39;s students don&#39;t pay anything at all, thanks to those scholarships, which are funded by companies including Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Intel.</p><p>The school&#39;s academic credibility has also gotten a huge boost from partnerships forged with New York University; University of California, Berkeley; Yale and Oxford.</p><p>Education experts have praised University of the People&#39;s surprisingly high retention rate of 75 percent, but what Jamie Merisotis of the Lumina Foundation says he likes most is that the school was built precisely to serve poor students living in difficult circumstances.</p><p>Merisotis, author of the book&nbsp;America Needs Talent, says many of the undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are young and talented but have no access to a higher education.</p><p>&quot;Post-secondary education is the key to integrating them into our society and taking them out of the shadows,&quot; Merisotis says.</p><p>&quot;Even if you kick them out of the country,&quot; Reshef says, with a good education &quot;they will be much more desired wherever they go. So it&#39;s a win-win situation for everyone.&quot;</p><p>As for Miguel Angel Cruz, he says he&#39;s on-track to earn a bachelor&#39;s degree in business administration in another year or two. But he&#39;s not waiting to put what he&#39;s learned into practice. He&#39;s now the manager of the tiny trailer park where he lives.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/10/26/449279730/the-online-college-thats-helping-undocumented-students?ft=nprml&amp;f=449279730" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/online-college-thats-helping-undocumented-students-113496 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