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  • Megann Horstead

Deeds, not words: Immigration panel calls for action

Area residents met to discuss ways which the community and the courts are flexing their muscle to fight Immigration and Customs Enforcement and President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

A panel recently gathered in Aurora to discuss the debate over immigration.

The forum aimed to shed light on immigration policies and the impact to the area.

Featured speakers at the event included U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, of the 11thCongressional District; Jose Vera, of Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project; Elizabeth Cervantes, of Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project; and Ed Yohnka, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

“When there are important issues like immigration, like healthcare, like gun violence, I believe it is important members of Congress hold public meetings and town halls like this,” Foster said. “I’m proud to be one of those members of Congress willing to do this.”

The 11thCongressional District, comprised of parts of Will County, is the home to people of many different backgrounds.

Foster said it’s been troubling to see the current administration and its efforts to halt legislation and its impact to the community.

Foster touted, among many efforts, his record for supporting the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, a measure introduced in 2010 that could have granted legal status to certain undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children and went to school.

Vera recounted the first Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in the area brought to the attention of the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project in May and wanted it to be clear that families arrested in Illinois earlier this year are not criminal aliens, or collateral arrests, and that everyone in Illinois deserves due process.

Around that time, Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project issued a community alert and conducted a Facebook live event with a Know Your Rights presentation.

“Because of that, we were able to identify many of the families that were impacted in our community through that ICE raid,” Vera said.