Emanuel and Durbin push bill to help educate undocumented immigrant children
By Abdon M. Pallasch Political Reporteremail@example.com May 13, 2011 6:22PM
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Dick Durbin headlined a rally for immigrant rights Friday.
During the mayoral campaign, Emanuel’s rivals accused him of side-lining immigration reform in favor of other issues.
While Emanuel won all the city’s black wards and most of the city’s white wards, he did not do as well in the Hispanic wards.
But on Friday, Emanuel pledged his full support to the state’s “Dream Act” — which aims to help raise private money to put young undocumented immigrants through school — and also to the much more ambitious and less likely federal Dream Act, which would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants for military service or completion of college.
The federal Dream Act passed the last Democratic-controlled House of Representatives but died in the Senate. Durbin re-introduced the bill last week, acknowledging it would be even harder “though not impossible” to pass the act now that the House is controlled by Republicans, many of whom ran on platforms of cracking down on illegal immigration.
Passage of the much less ambitious state act seems more assured. The Democratic leaders of both state houses appeared at the last rally and Gov. Quinn has pledged to sign the bill.
“If we keep the pressure up, keep our voices loud, we will pass the Illinois Dream Act,” Emanuel said, noting his own family’s immigrant background. “It’s only fitting that ... on the issue of immigration reform, Illinois does not follow the path that some are beating toward what Arizona has done, Passing the Illinois Dream Act, we will show the country a different path.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and presidents of many of Illinois’ universities, including DePaul and the University of Illinois at Chicago, also appeared at the rally for the bill at the offices of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which is spearheading the effort.
So did students on the verge of graduating from college after near-lifetimes in the United States, looking at bleak prospects for jobs or even drivers’ licenses after graduation because of their status.