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 - For Immediate Release & Distribution  -


August 7, 2004

Southwest side Mexican and Muslim leaders win meeting, press on issues

Chicago - Immigrants and their allies gathered outside the campaign office of Dan Lipinski, candidate for U.S. Representative (District 3), to challenge him to meet with local southwest side leaders. Demonstrators demanded he fulfill a promise made weeks ago, to a meeting with community leaders to discuss his position on issues affecting immigrants. ICIRR leaders point out that the current Congressman Lipinski has a terrible voting record on legalization for the undocumented, civil liberties, and comprehensive immigration reform. Muslim and Latino leaders stood side by side holding large paper mache puppets with crowns and signs saying "Dan Lipinski, Puppet Prince of the Southwest Side."

Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) said, "Immigrants and their children make up almost 30% of the Third Congressional District. We have registered over 2,500 new immigrant voters in this district, and we expect political respect on the issues that matter to our voters, like a path to citizenship for the undocumented and civil liberties. If Dan Lipinski is to assume the throne, he needs to learn to come out from under his father's shadow, and embrace his immigrant constituents and their issues. The road to Washington, D.C. must pass through the Southwest side, and it won't be a smooth ride unless he pays attention to immigrant organizations and their leaders." Dan Lipinski, a professor from Knoxville, Tenn., was chosen to run for the District in a complicated political move orchestrated by his father, Congressman Bill Lipinski. As a result he did not have to face the voters in the Democratic Primary, and faces only token opposition in the November election.

"Bill Lipinski seems to believe that the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois is a fiefdom that can be passed on like a family heirloom," said Hugo Rojas, executive director of Common Cause. "The lack of transparency in this episode is shocking. The Lipinski's need to be reminded that in this country, representatives are supposed to be elected not selected."

A coalition of Muslim, Mexican, and community organizations have been trying to arrange a meeting with Dan Lipinski for over a month. They were promised a meeting with him over two weeks ago, but still have not heard from the candidate. Organizers have registered 2500 immigrant voters in the 3rd Congressional district and are using this new political knowledge to push politicians to discuss immigrant issues.

Yaser Tabbara, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations said, "Dan Lipinski needs to understand a little something about this district. It is diverse, but united, organizing together around common and important issues. Latinos here know that we need a path to citizenship for immigrants who contribute to this country, Muslims know that we must protect the civil rights and liberties this country promised. Neither community leaders nor voters have any idea where Dan Lipinski stands on these issues, other than his statement that he intends to vote like his father. We need him to do better than that. Now we are working together to make it happen. Our communities are becoming a true political force that every politician needs to address."

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Yaser Tabbara, 312-718-3725, 312-212-1520



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