SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich today sent a letter to President George W. Bush, asking him to rescind the deportations of several hard-working immigrants, and help them reunite with their spouses and their U.S.-born children, and joined U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) in pleading for a system that keeps families together.
Maria Isabel Benitez, Elvira Arellano, and Disifredo Adan del Valle “came to Illinois hoping to fulfill their American Dream, worked hard, paid their taxes and provided for their U.S.-born children. Yet, in spite of this, they face deportation or have already been deported. We are a nation of laws, but these laws are clearly not served when individuals, whose only crime was their strong desire to come to this country and provide a better future for themselves and their children, are separated from their children,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
“I applaud the Governor’s continued commitment to these families, and I look forward to working with him at the Federal level to do everything we can to protect them,” said Congressman Gutierrez. “These individuals have worked hard to pursue the American Dream, and to build a better life for their children, but our convoluted immigration laws are making life a nightmare for their families. The President and the Congress have an opportunity to correct these injustices. We need a comprehensive, family-driven immigration policy in this country. We need a system that keeps husbands and wives, parents and children together.”
Gov. Blagojevich met with Latino community leaders who traveled to Springfield on behalf of Ms. Benitez, Ms. Arellano and Mr. Del Valle, exactly one year after the Governor had sent a similar letter to President Bush, asking him to rescind the deportation of Ms. Benitez. The leaders will travel next to Washington, D.C., to support legislative efforts for a comprehensive immigration reform, and to attempt to meet with the President.
- Ms. Benitez, who has four U.S.-born children, was deported to Mexico May 7, 2004, in spite of being four months pregnant and after 16 years residing in this country. She was deported even while she was in the process of applying for legal permanent residency. Thanks to a humanitarian visa, Ms. Benitez was reunited with her family last year, but her visa expires soon and she will be facing deportation next September.
- Ms. Arellano was employed at O’Hare airport cleaning airplanes when she was arrested on December 10th, 2002 and scheduled for a deportation. She won a stay of deportation thanks to a private bill introduced by Cong. Luis Gutierrez and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, but her stay expires in August of 2005. If deported, she could be separated from her only child, a U.S.-born boy, for whom she is the only breadwinner.
- Mr. Del Valle was deported to Mexico in March 25, leaving behind his wife Ana and their three children, all of whom are U.S. citizens. Mr. Del Valle, who was in the process of obtaining his permanent legal residency, was a homeowner and the only source of support for his family in the Humboldt Park community.
“As the son of an immigrant, I firmly believe the interests of our great nation are best served when we can act with compassion and fairness towards those who, far from being a security risk, pay their dues and contribute with work and dedication to their communities, and in many cases are their children’s sole support. In all these cases, you have a unique opportunity to reunite families and correct an injustice,” added the Governor.
Illinois’ immigrant population has grown 70 percent since 1990, according to U.S. Census figures, and is well over 1.5 million persons. Gov. Blagojevich has reached out to the state’s hard-working immigrants by signing into law a bill that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition in Illinois’ public universities. The Governor also directed the State’s Board of Education to implement a rule change so that the children of undocumented immigrants are not denied access to publicly funded preschools, and through his expansion of KidCare and FamilyCare, has extended health care coverage for thousands of uninsured immigrants across the state.