Friday June 17, 2011 – 30 community members from the Illinois Peoples Action and Latinos United for Change paid a visit to a fundraiser in Bloomington, IL where Congressman Adam Kinzinger IL-11(R) and Senator Mark Kirk (R) from Illinois were the key notes speakers. The diverse group consisted of families, senior citizens, students, community members, clergy, and youth. Their message was loud and clear No to E-Verify and No to any other anti-immigrant legislation in the works. Enforcement only does not work, we need comprehensive immigration reform…now!
Since the shift in power in government last November Anti-immigrant politicians on the state level have been introducing anti-immigrant legislation at a break neck pace, the latest bill has been introduced on the Federal level, anti-immigrant legislators are pushing for mandatory E-Verify, legislation that will require all businesses and employers to check the immigration status of every single worker in America. If the computer database says that you are not eligible to work, you are fired.
The day that HR 2164 “The Legal Workforce Act” was introduced L.U.C. reached out to meet with both the Congressman and the Senator to talk about their concerns with this latest legislation that was introduced on Tuesday June 14, 2011 by Congressman Lamar Smith TX (R).
After several emails, phone calls and faxes to Rep. Kinzinger and Sen. Kirk the group was told by their staff that neither the Congressman nor the Senator would be able to meet with the group in the foreseeable future. So, L.U.C. decided to take their message to them in the form of a direct action at the function that both Sen. Kirk and Rep. Kinzinger were speaking at on Friday June 17, 2011.
At this action student leaders Jenifer Carrillo from Illinois State University and Alex Monzón from Illinois Wesleyan University read over the problems with E-Verify on a megaphone in the lobby of the hotel right outside of the doors of the event that the Senator and Congressman were speaking at.
Jenifer Carrillo said into a mega phone, “For 20 years, our government has employed the deportation-only strategy to solve our immigration problem and it hasn’t worked. First they said the border fence would solve the problem; now they say we need mandatory e-verify; tomorrow it will be something else”.
Alex Monzón followed by stating, “Due to the error rate of the program, the government estimates that mandatory E-verify will force up to 4.1 million American workers to spend time and money getting their records corrected by a government agency in order to keep the jobs they already have. The government also estimates that 770,000 American workers would lose their jobs due to database errors.”
Members of L.U.C and IPA handed out flyers to hotel guest and attendees of the fundraisers that stated some other interesting facts about E-Verify:
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, pushing undocumented workers off of the tax rolls and into a cash economy would decrease federal tax revenues by at least $17 billion.
- In this unstable economy, workers shouldn’t have to risk losing their jobs, and honest businesses shouldn’t have to face additional costs and burdens, because Anti-Immigrant politician want to score political points over immigration.
The group also introduced some practical solutions: instead of playing politics with the issue, members of Congress should work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform that requires undocumented workers to get legal, pay taxes, learn Engish and undergo background checks on their way to become full U.S. citizens. Any way you look at it, Comprehensive Immigration Reform is the smarter, more practical, and fiscally responsible approach. We need our leaders in Washington to work together and pass comprehensive immigration reform and VOTE NO ON E-VERIFY.
Whatever happens in Washington DC and in the Halls of Congress, Latinos United for Change and Illinois People’s Action will continue to fight for social justice. As was shown when the Bloomington Police showed up to break up the demonstration and threaten to mace senior citizens and children as young as 8 if the group did not leave the hotel property immediately. The grouped left the hotel chanting…WE’LL BE BACK…WE’LL BE BACK…WE’LL BE BACK!!!
Responses on the protest from Sen. Kirk and Rep. Kinzinger as quoted by Week-TV and the Daily Pantagraph read as follows:
Week-TV: Senator Kirk calls the group “the far fringe” and says that E-Verify legislation has strong, bi-partisan support. http://www.centralillinoisnewscenter.com/news/local/Protest-Outside-GOP-Fundraiser-In-Bloomington-124115309.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150213265984174_16855661_10150213285074174#f337af7cde1c87c
The Daily Pantagraph: Rep. Kinzinger “E-Verify is to see if workers are legal or not,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants, but it should be legal immigration.” http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/government-and-politics/article_a0060a68-9961-11e0-95c6-001cc4c002e0.html