P.A.S.O. -West Suburban Action Project led a successful citizenship workshop this Saturday, March 29th at First United Methodist Church in Franklin Park. The doors opened at 9am and by 9:50am we had reached full capacity! We assisted 91 applicants begin the citizenship process and placed 35 additional people on a waiting list to be served through our office hours. This workshop shows again the interest by suburban immigrants to become citizens, and P.A.S.O.’s impact ensuring effective immigrant integration in the West Cook area.
On Saturday, we were also joined by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Teresa Reyes (Director of the Office of New Americans, Governor’s Office) Senator Don Harmon (39th District), Representative Kathleen Willis (77th District) and Franklin Park Mayor Barrett Pederson for a press conference calling for a stop to the deportations separating thousands of families like Karina Magdaleno (a single mother in deportation proceedings simply for a driving violation) and to highlight the urgency of keeping immigrant families together.
Since 2010, P.A.S.O. has provided critical citizenship services in the West Cook suburbs through our partnership with the New Americans Initiative and the IL Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. P.A.S.O. has directly assisted 1,736 new applicants begin this important process and we have educated over 3,000 about the benefits and requirements for citizenship though direct grassroots community outreach. In addition, P.A.S.O. ardently works to empower and develop community leaders to become active agents of change in their communities as we work to insure the rights of immigrants are respected, as well as for the passage of sound legislation and policies that uphold and respect the contributions of immigrants in Illinois.
While citizenship is the pinnacle of immigrant integration, we cannot have a thriving country- economically or socially- when thousands of families are being separated and taken from the communities they live in and contribute to. To date, two million people have been deported since 2009 and President Obama has deported more people than any other president in US history. It is imperative for effective immigrant integration at the municipal and state level along with federal policies and actions that respect and maintain families together be implemented for communities to thrive and prosper. In Illinois, immigrants comprise 14% of the population; with their minor children, they account for one in every five of our state’s residents. Nearly three in five of all Illinois immigrants live in the Chicago suburbs.
P.A.S.O. will continue working with key partners at the local, state and national level to ensure immigrants can live dignified lives and integrate in their communities, have an opportunity to live without fear and stay united with their families, and for legislation and policies that respect immigrants by empowering community members to develop and organize.