On Saturday, September 25, CAIR-Chicago participated in the Unity Rally, entitled One Nation, One Dream, hosted by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). The event, brought together supporters of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, including high profile politicians and community leaders. ICIRR representatives, including board member and CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, took the stage alongside Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Congressman Danny Davis, and State Treasurer and Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias.
Sen. Durbin, the chief proponent of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, has fought on behalf of immigrants to pass immigration reform for years.
“The strength of this nation is it’s diversity,” said Durbin, as he tearfully shared stories of undocumented children who would pull him aside in the halls of congress and ask him for help. Durbin said he believes that if a child is brought to America by his or her parents, and they work hard and want to stay here, that we have to make it easy for them to stay here.
Alexi Giannoulis, a second generation American and the son of Greek immigrants, said, “Immigrants have always been the backbone of this country and economy. Unfortunately, people are more concerned with dangerous rhetoric to divide us instead of working to bring us together. We need leaders who know how to pass comprehensive immigration reform and do it right now.”
Speeches were met by tumultuous applause and cheering. The crowd was energized and excited, however, the longest and loudest cheers were reserved for Congressman Luis Guiterrez, a longtime champion for Latino Americans. Speaking in English and Spanish, Guiterrez delivered a passionate call for immigration reform and for support of his colleague, Alexi Giannoulias, in the upcoming senate elections.
“The fight is long, I know many of you get tired, get frustrated, and somehow just don’t want to turn the next page. We don’t have the right to do that. It would be an act of highest irresponsibility to do that. I have visited with women in Salinos, California picking garlic all day long until they have no knees. I have been to meat packing plants in Iowa to see men and women without fingers. I’ve been to LA and seen the sweatshops where men and women sew all day long without proper wages. They are being exploited by men who know of their vulnerabilities and I’m telling you to vote for Alexi to give the people in the meat packing plant, the garlic field, the sweatshop a card that says you are an American Citizen and we recognize your contribution. “