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‘We are here to demand citizenship.’ Rally presses Congress and Biden to move on immigration reform.

“President Biden, we ask that you stop deportations and protect immigrant communities like mine,” Margot Zamora at the really Friday in Little Village.

Immigrant advocates cheer during a rally to demand a pathway to citizenship near the Little Village Arch.
Janet Garcia, second from left, cheers with immigration advocates during a rally to demand a pathway to citizenship and an end to deportations near the Little Village Arch at West 26th Street and South Albany Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Margot Zamora lives in fear that her husband will be deported. He works as a construction worker, is the sole provider for the household and is an undocumented immigrant.

I’m afraid that I will wake up tomorrow and that he won’t be here just because he wasn’t included in this citizenship for all,” she said. “We’re one family, we’re one home, but without him, we’re nothing.”

Zamora and other community leaders gathered at a rally in Little Village Friday morning to call on Congress and the Biden administration to create a path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“We are here to demand citizenship for all. We all deserve to be safe in our communities,” said Zamora, who has been organizing with Mujeres Latinas en Acción, a Latina-led domestic violence service group for about 15 years. “President Biden, we ask that you stop deportations and protect immigrant communities like mine.”

Guidance from the Senate’s parliamentarian is currently blocking immigration reforms from being part of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.

Democrats in Congress had hoped to use the bill to create a path to citizenship. Advocates are now pleading with Vice President Kamala Harris to use her position as Presiding Officer of the Senate to get around the parliamentarian’s opinion.

In September, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and other immigration rights groups across the country wrote a letter to Harris demanding she disregard the opinion.

The last major legalization program for undocumented immigrants was back in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

State Sen. Celina Villanueva said her parents were legalized through IRCA. “I’m standing here as state senator because my parents were legalized, because it changed our lives,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said all deportation centers in Illinois should be closed.

At the rally, advocates demanded an immediate stop to deportations, saying the Biden administration has not done enough.

The latest guidance on federal immigration enforcement prioritizes the deportation of those who pose a threat to national security or public safety, and leaves discretion up to individual officers.

Rep. Jesús ‘Chuy’ García said he would vote against a budget that does not include immigration. On Friday, he called on other congressmen to do the same. He pointed to how immigrant communities helped Democrats get control of the White House and Congress.

“We have the White House and we helped win it. We have the Senate, and we helped win it in the key states, and we’ve had the House,” García said. “If not now, then when? This is the best shot, we’ve had in 35 years. We’ve got to take it.”