Thousands of undocumented immigrants congregated at Chicago’s Navy Pier Wednesday to sign up for deferred action. They come from all walks of life and many countries; those who came to the U.S. as children and are in or have completed school or military service seeking a chance to get a work permit and a reprieve from being deported for the next two years.
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U.S. Rep. Louis V. Gutierrez (D-Chicago) calls Navy Pier the new Ellis Island. “Navy Pier is today’s Ellis Island, and while they saw New York City, today they see Chicago, but the most important thing is they see America, they see a place where there is a bright future for them,” Gutierrez said. So many people showed up at Navy Pier that thousands won’t be able to get through the full process. Those who won’t will be given further instructions on how to go about signing up for deferred action.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who has pushed for the DREAM Act, says while deferred action isn’t the solution to immigration problems, it’s a step in the right direction. “We’re gonna build more and more support. I know it. I can tell you that’s true because it’s happened before,” Durbin said. “When I first introduced the DREAM Act 11 years ago, I would go out to my car to leave an event and in the darkness there would be one young person, usually standing by herself to tell me very quietly ‘I’m one of those students, senator.’ Now look behind me. They’re not standing in the darkness whispering. They’re standing in the sunlight telling America, ‘We are ready to be part of your future.’ I think America will embrace this. This is what our nation is. This is who we are as a people. This is our diversity. You see it today at Navy Pier and you see it throughout our history.”
At today’s event, 1,500 were expected to receive help through the entire application process, and more than 11,000 are expected to sign up to receive help later.