Elgin’s Kaptain among 21 Illinois town leaders urging Congress to act on immigration reform
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 25, 2013 1:06PM
Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:25AM
Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain is one of 21 elected heads of larger Illinois municipalities who recently wrote to the state’s congressional delegation in Washington imploring members to overhaul immigration laws as a way to repair and boost the economy.
The leaders signed a letter which says new laws focusing on all immigrants, regardless of citizenship status, will create jobs and raise revenues. There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
“Illinois is facing tough economic times,” the letter says. “We cannot hope to achieve the growth necessary to repair the damage done by the recession without bringing eleven million people out of the shadows and fully integrated into our economy.”
In a press release issued Thursday, 11th District Congressman Bill Foster (D-Naperville), who acknowledged receipt of the letter, stated, “There has been overwhelming support from the religious community, business community, law enforcement and people from all walks of life. How long can Congress continue to ignore their calls for reform? It’s time for Congress to stop ignoring this critical issue and take action.”
Foster is a co-sponsor of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — a comprehensive immigration reform bill proponents say would strengthen borders, improve the legal immigration system and provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Kaptain said he was contacted by 8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Hoffman Estates) office and provided a draft of the letter.
“I feel it is in the best interests of our city to encourage legislators to continue to work for a bipartisan resolution to the immigration issues facing our country,” Kaptain said.
He noted that previous Elgin City councils have spent many hours discussing issues related to illegal immigrants resulting in policy changes.
“We have stated many times that the problem must be resolved at the federal level,” Kaptain said.
According to 2010 U.S. Census figures, about 44 percent of Elgin residents identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, with more than 38 percent of the city identifying as being of Mexican ancestry.
Also behind the move to get Congress to act on immigration reform are Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and FWD.us, an advocacy organization started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Emanuel has vowed to make Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in the world. The state already has some of the nation’s most immigrant-friendly laws and a few of its top leaders are involved in reform, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, officials said.
Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and is facing other financial issues that could be helped by reform, according to the letter. The mayors said the timing is right in the wake of the end of the partial federal government shutdown.
The mayors aren’t pushing for a particular bill. Legislation with amped up border security has passed the Senate but it is unclear if any overhaul will come for a vote in the GOP-led House.
“Our country was careening towards default and leaders from both parties, in both chambers, came together to do the right thing,” the letter said. “Let’s take this opportunity to form another coalition to come together, heal our economy, and grant those — who followed in the footsteps of many of our own immigrant parents — a legal path to remain here and provide a better life for their children.
Along with Emanuel and Kaptain those signing the letter are from Aurora, Peoria, Fairmont City, Hanover Park, Cicero, Champaign, Joliet, Normal, Orland Park, Hoffman Estates, Franklin Park, Urbana, Bloomington, Highland Park, Elmwood Park, Melrose Park, Evanston, McCook and Lincolnwood.
With Associated Press reports