BARRINGTON – Now that the government shutdown has passed and state representatives are back in office, Northwest Suburb Organizing for Action members are speaking out in hopes to get something else passed – immigration reform.
A public rally was organized by the NWSOFA beginning shortly after noon Tuesday, Oct. 22. Members gathered at Memorial Park on South Hough Street (across from Hough Street School) and walked one block north to rally, petition and display signs outside the Barrington office of U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill, at the Village Hall, 200 South Hough Street.
Rep. Roskam was not in his office Wednesday, nor was he during a September NWSOFA rally focused on pushing the Affordable Care Act and preventing a governmental shutdown. Constituent advocates greeted the rally group both times and recorded commentary to relay to Congress.
NWSOFA co-leader Sara Salvato Horan said Wednesday's rally was an attempt to spread awareness and encourage constituents to reach out to their congressmen and urge them to vote in favor of immigration reform.
Rally members stressed that more than 100 days have passed since the U.S. Senate on June 27 approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill by a 68 to 32 vote to create a path of citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants and to strengthen border security. The House of Representatives has not yet voted on the the bill or introduced of its own.
Roskam's staff issued a statement Tuesday saying that it is clear the U.S. immigration system is broken and must be remedied.
"First, we must work to secure our border once and for all," Roskam said. "Once the border is secure, we can then begin to address high-skilled visas, guest worker programs and give the people who are currently here the chance to get right with the law."
One NWSOFA member, Mary Lee Williams of Lake Zurich, said that she does not feel that securing the nation's borders is the priority.
"We need to figure out a way to give citizenship to those who work and are law-abiding in our country," Williams said.
Schaumburg resident Maria Perez was invited to step inside Roskam's office to visit with staff after sharing her tearful story with surrounding rally members.
Perez said her fiance and father of her 3-year-old son, who came to the U.S. legally in 2002 and again undocumented in 2008, was detained last week and is currently being held in McHenry County Jail.
"No one will tell me what is going on," Perez said. "All I know is we can't talk to him and they're reinstating a deportation order. He has a clean record."
Roskam spokeswoman Stephanie Kittredge said that Perez's specific case could not be discussed due to confidentiality reasons, but Roskam's office was working on the case.
Kittredge said that Roskam has been positive about immigration reform in many public outlets – meeting with pro-immigration groups more than 60 times.
"He wants to address reform piece by piece," Kittredge said. "To do a large bill all at once would bring a lesser result."
NWSOFA s a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization established to move forward the national agenda promised during the 2012 Obama re-election.