Chicago Aldermen Urge Protection of Immigrant Students
Moved by the story of a Chicago student’s possible deportation, the Chicago City Council approved a resolution on Nov. 18 in favor of legislation to protect students who are children of illegal immigrants. The legislation, called the DREAM Act, would allow enrolled college or university students to gain a path to legal citizenship if they have been in the U.S. for at least five years, and if they came to the U.S. when they were less than 15 years old.
Rigoberto Padilla, 21, is facing deportation to Mexico on Dec. 16 after having been charged with a misdemeanor and given court supervision for driving under the influence of alcohol. Padilla is an honor student of the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Padilla said that he had made a mistake by driving under the influence, but that the deportation sentence is an extreme punishment considering he has been living in the U.S. since he was six years old.
The City Council’s resolution expresses Mayor Daley’s and the Aldermen’s “support of the DREAM Act, and call upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt the removal of Rigoberto Padilla and all other young immigrant students who would be eligible to gain legal status under DREAM or other comprehensive immigration reform proposals while such legislation is under consideration in the U.S. Congress.”
The Council’s Aldermen expressed their support of Padilla and the passing of the DREAM Act, which would also affect the children of immigrants who either serve in the U.S. military, or gain a high school diploma in the U.S.
“This government supports those that don't want to go to school, those that don't want to work. It punishes those that do,” said Alderman George Cardenas, 12th.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights has publicly supported Padilla in his fight against deportation.
According to ICIRR's Executive Director Joshua Hoyt, “The Obama Administration recognizes that our immigration system is broken, yet it continues its absurd path of enforcing our current laws even more vigorously, a path that will only ruin more lives like Rigo's and tear apart more families. Our nation needs workable solutions that uphold our nation's values and move us forward together.”