Group tells Foster immigration changes overdue
After collecting 2,200 postcards from local residents backing immigration reform, a group from Joliet’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church delivered them Aug. 30 to U.S rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville.
The members of Nuevo Horizonte, or New Horizon, want sweeping changes in the current immigration system. They gathered many of the cards this summer during visits to Catholic parishes in Foster’s 11th Congressional District, which includes all or parts of Aurora, Bolingbrook, Darien, Joliet, Montgomery, Naperville, New Lenox, Shorewood and Woodridge.
“As you can see, most of us are Latinos, but we are here to help any other group,” explained Rosalio Mauricio of Joliet.
Nuevo Horizonte supports a path of citizenship for undocumented U.S. residents that would keep families intact. The group also would like low-skilled immigrants to be able to come to this country and work legally, among other things.
During the short meeting in Foster’s office, 195 Springfield Ave., Joliet, one member of the group told Foster the story of her life since she came to the United States from Mexico as a 12-year-old. The now-31-year-old woman asked for anonymity because of her status in the immigration system. As she spoke, her voice became tense, and her eyes reddened.
Because she moved from Mexico to America with her parents when she was a young girl, she did not have any say in the matter, the woman said.
“It was not my choice. It was my parents’ choice, obviously,” she said.
Five years ago, she spent $8,000 trying unsuccessfully to become a citizen. When her request was denied, she received a deportation letter. She became afraid that someone would knock on her door in the middle of the night and take her away from her four children, all of them younger than 11. It wasn’t easy to explain the situation to them, but she had to do it.
“I see a lot of children who lose their parents because they have been deported,” she told Foster, dabbing her eyes.
Foster told the group that reform was long overdue.
“You are preaching to the choir. I am doing everything I can to make it happen,” he said.
Members of the Republican Party are blocking the changes because they are afraid of primary election challenges by their right-wing peers, Foster said. He urged the group to continue meeting with other elected officials to ask them to do something. Perhaps that would speed the process.
“I think the best thing right now is not big fiery marches, but quiet meetings,” Foster said. “Every day the Republicans block this, they are telling every immigrant group, ‘We don’t like you, and we wish you weren’t here.’”