U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with DuPage County leaders at a roundtable discussion on immigration reform at Wheaton College on Monday, where he detailed why he believes Congress must take action to pass a reform bill and fix a “broken” immigration system.
“We wrote a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would allow millions who live and work in our country to come out of the shadows and earn their place here. We need this bill for the security of our country and the competitiveness of our economy,” Durbin said, according to a press release from his office.
“This is our best chance in a generation to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and I look forward to doing everything I can to ensure immigration reform reaches President Obama’s desk.”
Durbin is an immigration-reform advocate who authored the DREAM Act, part of the most recent reform bill, which would provide a path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the country before turning 16 and meet several requirements, such as serving in the military or pursuing higher education.
The Illinois Democrat and Senate Majority Whip is also a member of the Gang of Eight that introduced the bill, which funds a dramatic increase in border security, mandates the use of electronic employment verification, reforms the nation’s visa-awarding system and—most contentiously—provides a path to citizenship for illegal residents who meet certain criteria.
In a release, Durbin’s office quoted the Congressional Budget Office saying that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $685 billion through 2033 and “lead to 5% increases in both GDP and employment in the next twenty years.”
Other participants in the roundtable were Illinois Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Doug Whitley, Chicago Federation of Labor president Jorge Ramirez, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, Benedictine University president Dr. William Carroll, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital president David Fox, Father Anthony Taschetta of Mary Queen of Heaven Church, Jet president Jeff Norby and World Relief U.S. Church training specialist Matthew Soerens.
“We cannot wait,” the Daily Herald quoted Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, saying at the meeting "This is not something to delay on. That's the message we're trying to push harder and harder… We all know the system is broken. We all know it needs to be fixed. We sent members of Congress to Washington to fix the problems. And this Congress must fix this problem."
The paper also quoted Durbin saying that the path to citizenship is not amnesty: "Those who say this is amnesty have not taken an honest look at it… This is a tough assignment for these 11 million people."
The Chicago Tribune quotes Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, whose district includes Wheaton College, saying in a statement that “the House of Representatives is working on small, targeted pieces of legislation to advance solutions to these challenges.
"First, we must work to secure our border once and for all. Once the border is secure, we can then begin to address high-skilled visas, guest worker programs and give the people who are currently here the chance to get right with the law."