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Members of Faith and Labor Come Together to Urge Mark Kirk to Support Immigration Reform

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The following is a press release from AFCSME:

Working men and women and people of faith across Illinois are calling on their elected representatives in Washington to pass commonsense immigration reform that includes strong worker protections and creates a road map to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring citizens.

At a rally in Springfield, members of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good joined working families and community activists to urge Senator Kirk to reform the country’s broken immigration laws.

“Now is the time to pass worker-centered, comprehensive immigration reform,” Scott Saunders, Vice President of the Springfield and Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council, told a crowd rallying for immigration reform outside of Senator Kirk’s office.  “Senator Kirk’s help is needed in order to end an immigration system that separates families and treats millions of workers as second class.”

Sister Mary Jean Traeger, representing Springfield’s Faith Coalition of the Common Good and a member of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, said that many immigrants, regardless of their status, suffered hardship because of  over immigration system.  “We need to help all of our people who are in this country who are trying to make a better life for themselves,” she said.

Jim Dixon, a member of AFSCME and the Faith Coalition for the Common Good, also spoke.  He told the crowd about immigrants he met in Beardstown, IL.

“They are hard-working people who are raising families, paying taxes, have strong values,  and are American in every way, except on paper,” said Dixon.

“The threat of deportation hangs over their heads.  It makes them vulnerable to abuse.  That lowers the standards everyone.  We need to stand up for these workers.  By doing so, we stand up for the rights of all workers who are trying to make a decent living for their families,” he said.

Illinois’ unions have been engaged with immigration reform advocates, small business owners, community leaders, religious and faith-based groups, and others in supporting legislation in the United States Senate. Working men and women have made phone calls, sent emails, and spoken up in other ways to urge their elected leaders to pass legislation this summer.

Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, and Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, will also visit today in Washington with elected officials to ask for their support of this historic legislation.

The Senate began debate on comprehensive immigration reform legislation yesterday.  Senator Kirk was one of only 15 senators to vote against a procedural motion that allowed debate on the bill.

“We plan to let Senator Kirk know that we are disappointed in his vote yesterday,” said Carrigan.  “While we understand that Senator Kirk, like each Senator, has amendments he would like to see included in the bill, bi-partisan immigration reform is a serious effort to address a national crisis that is undermining Illinois families, workplaces, and communities.  It deserves serious debate and an up or down vote.”

“Illinois’ working families are watching and waiting for Senator Kirk to help millions of aspiring Americans achieve citizenship.  We are committed to help see this through and we’re counting on Senator Kirk’s support,” he added.