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Champaign Rally Held On Immigration Reform

Dick Durbin

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) speaks Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 during an immigration rally at West Side Park in Champaign, Ill. (Sean Powers/WILL)

About 200 people came out to rally on Saturday at Champaign’s West Side Park, urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Lucia Cruz, 24, crossed the U.S. border from Mexico more than a decade ago to be reunited with her father. She made the trip shortly after her mother, who was living in Mexico, died.

Now a student at Parkland College in Champaign, Cruz recently gained temporary amnesty under a new federal program that allows her to stay in the country for two years. But she said she wants to become an American citizen, and hopes Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) backs legislation approved in the Senate that would allow her to do that.

“If I’m given the chance, I would like to become a citizen cause I’m falling in love with this country cause I’ve been here like for so long,” Cruz said. “In the future, I would like to obtain my college degree and be a citizen and contribute to this country.”

A crowd holds up signs at an immigration rally in Champaign on Aug. 31, 2013. (Sean Powers/WILL)

Speaking during the rally, Tom Garza with the CU Immigration Forum said he wants to see people have the same rights as immigrants who came to the United States several generations ago.

“So, what we’re asking for with comprehensive immigration reform is not some fundamental reimagining of immigration in America, or some generous expansion of who is welcome here,” Garza explained. “It is simply fixing a broken system, so that the people coming here today have the same opportunity and access as the grandparents and great grandparents of today’s citizens had.”

Speaking a few days before the rally, Rep. Davis admitted the nation's immigration system is broken, but he said he is not willing to support the Senate’s bi-partisan proposal.

“I see we have a huge problem with our borders,” Davis said. “I don’t like the Senate bill’s border security provisions. I think it gives too much leeway to the (Obama Administration) and his appointees to be able to determine when the border is secure.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke at the event. He helped draft’s the Senate’s immigration bill, and he rejects the claim that the measure does not go far enough on border security.

“Don’t say we need more border enforcement than the Senate bill,” Durbin said. “Ten years ago, there were 10,000 border patrol agents on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Today, there are 19,000, and this bill will raise it to 40,000 border patrol agents. It’ll be the fifth largest standing army in the world for goodness sakes.”

The House has not put forward its own immigration plan, but U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he expects an immigration overhaul before the end of the year.