Romeoville celebrates immigrant contributions
For most immigrants, it is about the promise of a better life and an opportunity—the American Dream.
This past Saturday, July 21, was a day for them and for all immigrants who took part in the celebratory Day of the Immigrant 2013—Sharing our American Dream.
Local dignitaries, residents and members of all cultures from throughout the southwest suburbs came out to Deer Crossing Park in Romeoville to celebrate their contributions and their culture. The event was sponsored by the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP).
The event is designed to empower the voices of immigrant population living in the southwest suburbs. The Day of the Immigrant brings awareness to the need of immigrant reform and celebrates the contributions and success stories of immigrant neighbors.
“This event means a lot to immigrant families in the area, because it showcases the work they do in their community, and it highlights the need for immigration reform through the testimonies and the program with the elected officials,” said organizer Jose Vera.
The SSIP recognized individuals such as 82-year-old Rachel Cordero, who dedicated her life to helping immigrants, forming the first ESL program and founding Future Heritage Organization in Bolingbrook. A tearful Carmen Castillo presented the award to Cordero, thanking her for teaching her the English language, opening a new world to her.
The Day of the Immigrant has been held in Naperville in 2010 and in Bolingbrook in 2012. The event is growing: This year, the day stretched into evening, marking a historic time with an immigration reform bill moving through Congress. The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal, S.1291, first introduced in the Senate on Aug. 1, 2001.
“The Senate has already passed a bill, and now all eyes are in the House of Representatives,” said Vera. “The general spirit and theme of the event remain which is to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to the suburban communities, and this years special theme is “Sharing our American Dream” just to highlight the importance of immigration reform.”
U.S Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, spoke to the crowd echoing the comments of the participants, acknowledging this as a time of great importance for immigrant reform.
“This is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer,” said Foster, who added that one of his proudest votes was for the Dreamers Act, knowing first hand the difficulty encountered by immigrants taking his wife’s, an Asian immigrant, into account.
“As a scientist and as a businessman, I know how valuable immigrants are—more than one fourth of all U.S. small businesses were opened by immigrants. The Senate bill is not perfect, but it is a start. At least we can push a fast track for our Dreamers.”
According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are roughly 1.8 million immigrants in the United States who might be, or might become, eligible for the Obama Administration’s “deferred action” initiative for unauthorized youth brought to this country as children. This initiative, announced on June 15, offers a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military.
The SSIP has worked in various facets, this year alone helping 200 people become citizens; developing a peer mentoring group in Bolingbrook schools and organizing 300 full buses to rally in both Chicago and Washington, D.C.