Pritzker joins call for immigration reform

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A call to action regarding immigration reform united politicians Friday. Governor-elect JB Pritzker said more needs to be done on both moral and economic grounds to protect immigrants.

Speaking to the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, Pritzker was joined by Senator Dick Durbin and retiring congressman Luis Gutierrez, along with his replacement Jesus Chuy Garcia, in pushing for immigration reform.

"I'm actually here to ask you for your help. It's help that you're already giving, but I need you to double down," Pritzker said.

There was a good deal of optimism Friday morning that after the mid-term election there may be a swing in momentum to get something done on immigration.

But part of that hope is premised on focusing on the goals and not political affiliations.

"We desperately need to make this a business issue and a political issue, a moral issue and an issue that transcends political party," Durbin said.

The coalition estimates that undocumented immigrants contribute $758 million in state and local taxes to Illinois' economy every year.

"We strongly support immigration reform and legalization for 11 million undocumented," said Sam Toia, CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Pritzker said he will work as governor to expand the Trust Act, which prohibits police from detaining or arresting anyone based solely on their immigration status.

"When I see a group like this coming together, standing up for our immigrant communities, I'm encouraged about the future," he said. "I'm certainly going to work with many people in this room to make sure we're standing up for immigrants in this state."

Gutierrez also announced his next plans, being an unpaid senior advisor for the National Partnership for New Americans.

"We're gonna go around this country and we're going to tear down the wall that has already been built around 1 million green card holders that have applied for American citizenship," he said. "We're gonna tear down that wall so that they can vote in November of 2020, in the next presidential election."

In talking about the need for immigration reform to be a bipartisan effort, Pritzker stressing the issue as an economic imperative may work to persuade people who don't see or approach it as a moral imperative.
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