About the CU Immigration Forum:
Who Are We
The Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum is a group of immigrants, students, clergy, service providers, labor union representatives, residents and community organizations concerned about the progress and plight of immigrants in the Champaign County community (Central Illinois). Since December 2009, the C-U Immigration Forum meets regularly (on the second Tuesday of each month) to discuss immigration-related issues and events in our community and works to:
- celebrate the diversity and culture that immigrants contribute to our community;
- educate the public about issues that affect local immigrant communities;
- advocate for the rights of immigrants and encourage their full participation in civic, cultural, social and political life in our community;
- promote permanent and positive changes that will improve the quality of life for immigrants in our community; and
- organize for policies that lead to just and humane treatment to all immigrants that are part of our community.
What Are Our Concerns
- Our nation has a proud and long tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world as symbolized by the Statute of Liberty. Too often, however, bigotry and discrimination against new immigrants has been a common response. The C-U Immigration Forum rejects such attitudes and works to celebrate the diversity and contributions of all immigrants in our community.
- Around 11 million undocumented immigrants are living and working within U.S. borders without a realistic path to citizenship. Our government’s focus on enforcement-only policies has not substantially reduced that number, but has led to the tearing apart of families, human rights abuses, racial profiling, and even death.
- A related issue is that 65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school without “papers.” These are young people born outside of the United States who were educated in American schools, hold American values, know only the U.S. as home and who, upon high school graduation, find the door to their future slammed shut. Access to post high-school education is for them difficult if not impossible. This is a waste to all concerned – students, their families, the community at large. Recent policy changes under DACA are a start but the full incorporation of these young people is a neccessity.
What Are We Doing About It
- In response to the needs of immigrants, the CU Immigration Forum collaborates with local churches as well as organizations such as the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant andRefugee Rights (ICIRR) to promote programs and policies that benefit immigrants in our community as well as activities such as screening/discussion of documentary films on immigration issues, worship services, legislative updates, and direct assistance to immigrants through a hotline called La Linea.
- In solidarity with the U of I Registered Student Organization, La Colectiva, Immigration Forum members have lobbied in support of the DREAM Act on a state and national level to create a path to citizenship for students who graduate from college or serve in the U.S. military. Efforts to educate and prepare young people to file under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, are under way since August 15, 2012 and will continue with renewals.
- The C-U Immigration Forum has worked to reverse the negative impacts of the controversial federal deportation program called “Secure Communities” which was promoted as a way to identify and deport dangerous criminals “who pose a threat to public safety, such as aliens with prior convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery, and kidnapping.” However, according to the federal government’s own data the vast majority of individuals detained under the program were non‐criminals. Here in Champaign County 70% of those detained had no criminal record, but the impact on local families has been devastating. Thereafter, reports and observations at the Champaign County Jail seem to indicate that only a few immigrants are turned over to ICE.
- A related item is that many immigrants are forced to drive without licenses because these are not available to them. We have joined the statewide coalitions (Highway Safety, ICIRR) to create awareness of this safety problem; licenses are now available for all those that prove they can drive.
- The Forum has conducted a number of events to reach out to local immigrant communities from sponsoring consulate visits to help local immigrants obtain passports and other documents to organizing “Know Your Rights” workshops to educate local immigrants about programs such as Secure Communities and their rights under the law. The IF has also helped sponsor the visits by the governments of Mexico and Guatemala to issue documents for their citizens. In 2014, the group also began identifying Central American unaccompanied minors and helping coordinate to meet their legal and daily needs. In 2016, ICE announcements on new raids and political speeches prompted the Forum in doing a new series of KYR workshops.
Some Press Coverage and Local Media:
- For press needs, please feel free to contact Ricardo Diaz at 217-979-0255 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sheriff says "sanctuary county" title is misleading Champaign County could be in Trump's crosshairs. September, 2016.
- Highway Safety and Mandatory Insurance bill for ALL Illinois motorists
- The 2012 Election and the Specter of Immigration Reform -- Surviving the Prairies of Illinois
- ICIRR Report - Immigration Enforcement: The Dangerous Reality Behind Secure Communities
- News-Gazette article "Program aimed at criminal immigrants criticized"
- Daily Illini Article "C-U immigrants live in fear of being deported for minor infractions"
- University YMCA blog "Only the Beginning..."
- Independent Media Center reports on Secure Communities
- Smile Politely "Secure Communities Causing Problems for Local Latinos"
Similar National Groups and Organizations:
The IF participates in activities sponsored by http://www.migrationpolicy.org/and relays information provided by the http://www.migrationpolicy.org/
BorderLinks is a bi-national, nonprofit educational organization at the U.S./Mexico border that focuses on cross-border relationship building opportunities, issues of immigration, community formation and development, and social justice in the borderlands between Mexico, the U.S., and beyond. On average, nearly 1,000 individuals participate annually in BorderLinks learning opportunities.
No More Deaths is an organization whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative: the conviction that people of conscience must work openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights. Our work embraces the Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform.
Samaritans (formerly Samaritan Patrol) are people of faith and conscience who are responding directly, practically and passionately to the crisis at the US/ Mexico border. We are a diverse group of volunteers that are united in our desire to relieve suffering among our brothers and sisters and to honor human dignity. Prompted by the mounting deaths among border crossers, we came together July 2002 to provide emergency medical assistance, food and water to people crossing the Sonoran Desert.
Coalición de Derechos Humanos (“The Human Rights Coalition”) is a grassroots organization which promotes respect for human/civil rights and fights the militarization of the Southern Border region, discrimination, and human rights abuses by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials affecting U.S. and non-U.S. citizens alike.