Chicago labor and immigration rights organizations on Thursday announced a mass march to Federal Plaza next week, which they hope will pressure Congress to vote on comprehensive immigration reform after the government shutdown.
The March for Dignity, Respect and Justice on Saturday, Oct. 12, will be part of a national week of action by labor and immigration rights organizations in Chicago to pressure Congress for a comprehensive immigration bill, and to demand President Obama end deportations.
“This [immigration reform] is the right thing to do for America, for our economy and our communities and for workers and our families,” said Laura Garza of SEIU Local 1. “We are here to call on Congress to give us a vote, and we want it now. . . . We call on our working people to join us on Saturday Oct. 12 because we believe in a society that values contributions, of aspiring citizens, and recognizing the integral role that Americans play in our past, present and future.”
Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor criticized the government shutdown, calling it a “manufactured crisis.” He said the real issue of the day is immigration reform.
“To continue to ignore this problem isn’t going to make it go away,” Ramirez said. “Our families are suffering because of it. There’s over 11 million people that need to be brought from the shadows into the sunlight and Congress needs to act on this. They need to find the courage through all the bologna that’s going on in Washington to act on this in a meaningful way and to do it immediately.”
The march will begin at Teamster City at 1645 W. Jackson at noon, with supporters to march to Federal Plaza at 2 p.m. A rally will be held at 3 p.m.
Garza said she expects a good turnout: “At this point, we’re expecting thousands to show up. I can tell you the community has been out there really pushing for this.”
This Saturday, immigration reform supporters will drive to U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-Ill.) district — which encompasses some west and northwest suburbs — to demand he vote for reform when Congress reconvenes. Saturday also marks a national day of rallies, with supporters expected to participate in rallies in more than 100 cities and the Capitol to demand speedy action.
Immigration reform has been a top goal for Obama during his second-term. But some advocates fear other issues — like the government shutdown aftermath and the Affordable Health Care Act — might deter from a passing vote on comprehensive immigration reform.