Last Wednesday, May 1st, about two hundred people marched in downtown Bloomington calling for humane immigration reform. Illinois People’s Action (IPA), a faith-based community organization dedicated to the struggle for immigrant rights (among other issues), organized the march.
The action began at 5:30 PM with an ecumenical service in front of the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts (BCPA). Faith leaders from the Bloomington-Normal area spoke eloquently about how each of their faith traditions demanded respect and justice for immigrants.
Among the speakers were Father Petri (St. Mary’s), Pastor Clement (U.U. Church), Rabbi Goldstein (Moses Montefiore), Father Hennessy (Holy Trinity), Pastor Gaylord (First Presbyterian) Pastor Martinez (First Assembly of God) and Pastor Santana (Restoration). Benito Gómez, a local IPA member, emceed the service.
After the service, the group consisting of immigrants and their families, along with community members in solidarity, marched through downtown Bloomington and returned to the BCPA. Recently elected Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner met with the group at the end of the March in a show of solidarity with immigrants and their families. Renner stated he would do what he could within the powers of the Mayor to ensure that injustices would not continue.
Earlier in April, the Senate “Gang of Eight” (consisting of four Republicans and four Democrats) formulated a comprehensive immigration reform bill. IPA organized the march to show support for the efforts of the Senators in coming to a compromise amid sharp polarization between the two parties. The group applauds the initial regularization of status with eventual opportunities to gain citizenship; the elimination of the “backlog”; the DREAM act for undocumented youth; and measures to control immigration in the future.
However, the group is not satisfied with all aspects of the bill. IPA does not approve of the “triggers” for the path to citizenship, mainly that the path is contingent on more border “enforcement”. Mandatory E-Verify, continued deportations for those who do not qualify for legalization, and further implementation of discriminatory programs like “Secure Communities” are among the other elements that are not favorable to immigrants, according to IPA.
The Senate will begin to revise the bill this month. IPA hopes they will approve the bill before Memorial Day.