State of the Union: Chicago immigration reform advocates displeased with President Biden's speech

Craig Wall Image
Friday, March 8, 2024
Chicago immigration reform advocates displeased by State of the Union
Immigration advocates in Chicago are displeased President Joe Biden did not discuss migrant work permits in his State of the Union address Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- President Biden's comments on immigration during his State of the Union address Thursday night have left some advocates in Chicago disappointed.

They are calling for more action out of Washington.

Advocates for immigration reform listened to President's Biden's speech with hope that he would offer some concrete steps that could address concerns about work permits for migrants. It didn't happen.

There was a sense of disappointment with President Biden in Little Village. Not so much with what he said about immigration during his State of the Union address, but instead what he did not say.

At the Little Village Community Council, 21-year-old Liliana Medina volunteers her time while she waits for some kind of immigration reform. She's an undocumented immigrant who came from Mexico as an infant. She went to college to be an EMT, but can't get a job because she can't get a work visa.

"Really frustrating, 'cause I'm willing to help my mom because she's also an immigrant here, and I want her to have a better life," Medina said.

RELATED | State of the Union: Takeaways from President Biden's address to the nation

Members of Congress and service industry leaders are also frustrated, calling on the President to take executive action to expand expedited work permits. They want them to not just be available to asylum seeks, but also for those who have been in the country for years, stuck working in the shadow economy.

"They're here and they've been here, not new," National Restaurant Association board member Sam Sanchez said. "To give new arrivals a work visa without acknowledging and appreciating the hard work of the long term migrants, it's offensive and people are upset."

"For every single person that has been been waiting anxiously while working their butt off every single day in this country, it is damn time we have work permits for all," Representative Delia Ramirez said.

RELATED | Chicago Unity Initiative, local church help migrants receive work permits

The President is also facing criticism for referring to an arrested immigrant using the term "illegal."

White House aids clarified Friday the President was responding to someone in congress who yelled it first.

"Very offensive," Little Village Community Council President Baltazar Enriquez said. "Yeah. He should have corrected her because he's the president. He's the leader.

Advocates and a large gathering of undocumented Dreamers and students will hold a rally Saturday afternoon in Pilsen to call for work permits for all, continuing the pressure campaign aimed at the White House.