Route 2014: Views on immigration reform in Chicago


Route 2014: Views on immigration reform in Chicago

There are two things candidates in Chicago could almost always count on in November – cold weather and a strong democratic showing from the Latino community. But Hispanic voters in the U.S. are angry, and frustrated with what they say are broken promises from President Obama to reform immigration laws –and make the country a better place for the undocumented workers. Latinos are threatening to stay away from the polls to show Democrats they can’t take their vote for granted.

CCTV’s Sean Callebs begins his Route 2014 series with a look at the hot-button issue of immigration reform.

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In President Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, immigration is one of the key issues in the mid-term races. Here in the neighborhood of Little Village, there are more than 20,000 undocumented workers. Most are from Mexico, people living in the shadows, constantly in fear of deportation.

Idalia Cervantes is a community organizer. “I remember being 12-years-old when my parents told me –they themselves were undocumented. And it was like a big shock when they said –you know, we don’t have papers, we are not here legally –like we can get deported any minute and we would be gone like this.”

It was this shock to the system, that made 23-year-old Idalia Cervantes want to be a community organizer, and work to reform the immigration laws in the United States. Cervantes is a U.S. citizen, and was thrilled six long years ago, when candidate Barack Obama vowed to make life better for immigrants within his first 100 days in office.

“I was just so excited that he was going to give us immigration reform,” said Cervantes.

But nothing has changed despite another Obama promise for reform in 2012, and again this year.

Idalia says her family and friends are still labeled “illegals” – a term she loathes.

“Illegal is a thing. And when you are telling a person that you are illegal it’s like you are saying they are not human.”

Many Latinos here in Obama’s hometown believe the president’s image has become permanently tarnished. Too many promises of immigration reform have gone unfulfilled. Now, many believe that Obama and democrats in general are taking the voting block for granted.

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Lawrence Benito is with the Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights. “Not only did he not deliver, we have seen record number levels of deportations –more than any other president in U.S. history.”
Lawrence Benito now calls President Obama, the “Deporter in Chief”, saying two-million people have been deported from neighborhoods like Little Village during Obama’s administration.

But what about the argument that undocumented workers are in the U.S. illegally? And, critics say, a drain on taxpayers, while taking jobs from U.S. citizens.

“You go to any restaurant –and any hotel right now, who’s washing your dishes cleaning your hotel room taking care of your kids – we need to have this conversation in our country about what we need –and who is delivering those things.”
One thing Latino voters may not deliver this election, votes to the Democratic Party.

“I don’t want to get my hopes up on them – but then also if we vote for the Republican Party we know that they do not want us here…at all, “said Cervantes.

“People are angry, they are frustrated –they are disillusioned by our system of government in which politicians say what they think people want to hear, then not deliver,” said Benito.

Broken promises could cost Democrats dearly at the polls. Latinos are the largest minority in the U.S. and have always been a virtual lock for the Democratic Party. But as one voter told CCTV, she would rather vote for a Republican who openly demonizes her –as opposed to a Democrat who doesn’t tell the truth.

For more insight discussion on these issues, CCTV America spoke with Annaluisa Padilla, who is an immigration lawyer. Her practice focuses on family immigration and defending those who are fighting deportation or removal.

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A view of the midterms from Route 2014, CCTV on the road