Senator Durbin took to the stage Wednesday May 1, standing alongside Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform Chairman Billy Lawless, for a May Day rally in downtown Chicago that saw thousands take to the streets to demand an end to deportations and immigration reform now.
Senator Durbin spoke of the need for people to keep the pressure on their legislators as his bill, co-sponsored by the bipartisan Gang of 8 senators, moves into hearings next week. The fight to keep the bill as inclusive and generous as possible has only just begun but he promised to do all in his power next week in Washington to ensure that American families are kept together with an end to deportations.
The crowd heard from a young pair of Polish-American sisters who pleaded with the senator to halt the deportation of their father who is scheduled for removal within days.
The duo fought back tears as they described their father as the cornerstone of their family while holding up an image of him in U.S. military uniform describing his service back in the 80’s.
Their heart wrenching story was only compounded by the sight of their mother who looked tearfully on, herself having been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Theirs is the story of countless thousands of good, hard working, multi-status families – some family members US citizens with others undocumented – that are being torn apart by the over 1400 daily deportations.
Should the senate immigration bill survive the hearings intact this family would be able to bring their father home. A provision in the bill states that all of those who have been deported, who have no criminal convictions and who have a US citizen or US resident family member resident in the United States may apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI) to return and be reunited with their loved ones.
*Breandán Magee is the Executive Director of the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support (CIIS)