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Immigrants celebrate change

One day after President Obama’s inauguration, immigrants are stepping right up to ensure that their issues get attention from the new administration, holding actions in Washington D.C., Chicago, and elsewhere.

On January 21 in Washington, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and groups from across the country, including members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, will march to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

There 200 religious leaders will perform traditional cleaning ceremonies from various faiths, intended “to mark the end of enforcement-only immigration policies and celebrate the new momentum for just and humane immigration reform and worker justice,” according to a statement. A rally at Westminster Presbyterian Church follows.

“We want to transform our society so that workers don’t have to fear raids, families stay together, and no one lives in the shadows,” according to the FIRM statement. “We want workers to have the freedom to organize and demand fundamental change. Everyone in this country must be entitled to dignity and due process. Our country must welcome the contributions and cultures of immigrants from all over the world, and celebrate the vitality they bring to our country.”

In Chicago, local members of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at Casa Michoacan, 1638 S. Blue Island, to urge the new president to “launch a long-overdue transformation of the nation’s immigration policies,” said Claudia Lucero of Durango Unido, a Mexican-American hometown association.

They’ll call on the administration to stop workplace raids which leave “a lot of families…scared to go to work” and “worried when they drop their kids at school whether they can pick them up,” Lucero said. They’ll call for action on a backlog of many years for applications for residency and citizenship which puts immigrants in jeapordy. And they’ll call for a “just and humane immigration reform that leads to legalization for families working and paying taxes in the United States,” she said.

Lucero said NALACC members have already joined other groups in meeting with the immigration committee of the presidential transition team, and were told “immigration issues are still a priority for Mr. Obama,” Lucero said.

At noon on the 21st, ICIRR and the Ya Basta Coalition will rally at the local office of ICE, 55 E. Monroe, to demand a moratorium on raids and deportations. Then they’ll march to the Federal Plaza and hold an interfaith service at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.

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Category: immigrants, transition

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