January 07, 2013

House Committee OKs Immigrant Driver’s Licenses

Drivers licenses for immigrants who are in Illinois illegally moved a step closer to passage on Monday morning. Backers say there are an estimated 250,000 immigrants driving around Illinois without a driver’s license.

After the measure was approved by a House panel, State Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) spoke surrounded by people who had come to support the legislation in the Capitol.

“Today is a small victory, but either this evening or tomorrow, we will make history,” Acevedo said.

The measure requires immigrants to obtain liability insurance in order for the license to be valid.

They would have to take driver’s tests, prove Illinois residency and have a picture taken for a state database.

The visitor licenses would have a purple banner declaring that they’re not a form of identification, so that they cannot be used to purchase firearms or board an airplane.

Some House Republicans expressed worry Monday about potential for fraud.

The measure now goes to the full House. It already passed the Senate, and Governor Pat Quinn says he supports it.

Washington and New Mexico currently allow illegal immigrants to get licenses.


October 26, 2012

Dream Fund Unveils Scholarship for Immigrant Students

Immigrant students in search of financial assistance to go to college will soon be able to apply for private scholarships in Illinois. The Illinois Dream Fund, an established non-for-profit in charge of managing the scholarships, unveiled the new initiative on Friday morning.

The scholarship program is part of the Illinois Dream Act, a law that increases immigrant students’ access to college. The measure, signed into law in 2011, called for the creation of the Illinois Dream Fund Commission, a group of stakeholders in charge of raising money for the scholarship program.

Tanya Cabrera is one of the commissioners and chair of the Dream Fund. She said there are specific requirements to qualify for the program.

“We are looking for students who possess a 2.5 GPA or higher, who are current seniors, who are graduating either entering at the two year level... or at the four year level institution," she said.

The scholarship program offers financial aid to immigrant students who are undocumented or who don't qualify for any type of federal student aid.

Maria Gonzalez is an undocumented student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She pays for college working at a retail store. Her school also gives her a merit based grant for $30,000 each year. From there she needs to come up with $3,000 each semester.

She admits that money from the Dream Fund could make college less stressful for students like her.

“So there is always the struggle,” said Gonzalez. “Am I gonna actually be able to come up with all this money? …. I need to work more, but I cannot work more ‘cause I need to be full time in school to keep the scholarship.”

For Gonzalez finishing college is an opportunity to make her parents proud.

“For me finishing school means a lot,” she said. “They wanted a better future for us; they wanted us to have more opportunities than what they had.”

So far, the Illinois Dream Fund raised under $500,000 in private funds for the scholarships, but their goal is to raise a lot more than that.

“Our goal is actually to raise five million dollars. We are looking for contributions big and small to make the scholarship a reality,” she said.

The application period starts November First.


Immigrant rights groups and community members in LA protest Secure Communities
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
September 26, 2012

Immigration Policy Enlists Help of Local Police

Some local law enforcement agencies hold non-citizen prisoners on behalf of federal immigration officials. That gives immigration officials time to decide if the prisoner should be transferred to a detention facility and possibly deported. The agreement is designed to help crack down on hardened criminals, but there are concerns that it may go too far.

Angelina Lopez, 47, is a single mother living with three grown children in the Bloomington-Normal area. She illegally came to the United States with them from Mexico about 10 years ago. But her life in the U.S. is in influx because she is facing deportation.

Last October, Lopez was leaving a movie theatre in Bloomington where she worked as a custodian. Lopez was behind the wheel of her car. She said she noticed a patrol car and remained extra vigilant, to not give the police any reason to pull her over. But as soon as she pulled out of the parking lot, she said she was stopped and asked for her driver’s license, which she did not have.

“I think that they asked for my identification and my license, they asked if I was carrying drugs in the trunk,” Lopez said through a translator. “I said ‘no, you can check.’ It was a question that makes it seem like I’m a drug trafficker or like I sell drugs or something.”

Lopez was charged with several traffic violations, including driving without a license and operating an uninsured vehicle. 

Once a person is brought to the county jail, their fingerprints are scanned and transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency can then determine if that person is eligible to be deported.

McLean County’s willingness to contact immigration officials about non-citizen arrests, and honor the ICE holds is not unusual. Just about the entire country is enrolled in a similar program through ICE called “Secure Communities.”

Secure Communities began as a pilot program in 2008, at the end of the George W. Bush Administration, and it has expanded during the Obama Administration.

ICE reports Secure Communities has helped remove more than 151,000 people, including more than 55,000 convicted of major violent offenses such as murder, rape and the sexual abuse of children.

ICE said it expects to roll out Secure Communities nationwide by the end of next year.

Illinois and Alabama are the only states that have not activated the program statewide.

After initially opting into it, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last year said his state would no longer participate out of concerns over how the program was being operated.  Other Illinois counties that have cooperated with ICE detainer requests, like Cook and Champaign, have also taken a step back after voicing similar concerns.

Last December, the CU-Immigration Forum held a public meeting at the Champaign Public Library to discuss Champaign County’s implementation of Secure Communities. The immigration program drew up a lot of concern and interest, based on the more than 125 people who showed up to the forum.

“In its one year implementation in Champaign County, it has been plagued by problems,” Aaron Johnson-Ortiz, a member of the CU-Immigration Forum, told a crowd.

According to analysis of non-citizen arrests held on ICE holds from Oct. 5, 2010 to Aug. 15, 2012 from data provided by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office:

 

  • 45 of the 67 arrest records in Champaign County were between March 2011 and March 2012
  • 43 of those arrested identified as Hispanic
  • 35 were released to ICE
  • 10 of the arrests made between March 2011 and March 2012 were for traffic violations, including driving on a suspended license, driving an uninsured vehicle, driving an unregistered vehicle, driving under suspicion (DUS) and driving with improper registration.
  • Nine of the 10 traffic violation arrests made were of people identified as Hispanic. One identified as white, non-Hispanic
  • Charges were dropped against 11 of the 45 arrested between March 2011 and March 2012

 

Johnson-Ortiz listed several concerns he and others shared about Secure Communities, including separating families, using up jail space and tax dollars to house ICE detainees, and encouraging racial profiling.

“Champaign can stop a hold. This can happen tomorrow morning if Sheriff Walsh wants to. All that’s required is political will,” he added. “We can stop this right now.”

Three months after the forum, that is exactly what Champaign County did.

Sheriff Dan Walsh told federal officials the county would no longer honor detainer requests by immigration officials to hold inmates under the ‘Secure Communities’ program.  He said inmates would only be turned over by warrant or court order.

Walsh declined to be interviewed for this story.

Even though Champaign County is no longer cooperating with the detainer requests, it is one of 26 Illinois counties currently enrolled in the program.

From 2009 through the start of this year, the Department of Homeland Security reported that about 3,000 people were arrested in these counties, and taken into ICE custody. Of those arrests, 27 percent committed felonies or misdemeanors and 26 percent of those crimes punishable by less than one year in prison.

The remaining half broke immigration law by violating the terms of their visa, entering the United States without inspection, or refusing to leave the U.S. after being ordered to do so.

These people may have criminal convictions, but none confirmed by ICE.

McLean County, where Angelina Lopez was arrested, is not enrolled as a Secure Community. She questions the true motivation behind her arrest.

"My message for all those who have the same problem as I do - of not having a sheet of paper that makes all the difference - is to stay out of trouble,” Lopez said. “I congratulate those who have that paper because they don’t make criminals out of them like they do of us.”

McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery said his office is responsible for about 30 percent of the arrests of non-citizens in McLean County. The rest have been carried out by other law enforcement agencies, like the police departments in Bloomington and Normal.

“It’s not as if we’re going out and making traffic stops solely for the purpose of checking the driver’s papers,” Emery said. “We don’t engage in those types of practices. When we get them at the county jail, it’s because they have violated state law, and we treat all cases the same.”

From the beginning of July 2011 through the start of this September, there have been roughly 180 arrests in McLean County in which people were held in the local jail on behalf of ICE.

They were held for immigration violations, misdemeanors, felonies, DUI’s or less severe crimes, like traffic violations.

Nearly 40 percent of those arrested, like Lopez, only had traffic violations on their record at the time of their arrest. Almost one in five had fewer than four traffic counts, according to an analysis of arrest data provided by the McLean County Sheriff’s Office.

As a courtesy, the McLean County sheriff’s office contacts ICE about non-citizen arrests.

The jail can only hold someone for up to 48 hours on behalf of ICE, not including weekends and holidays.

ICE can then determine if that person is eligible for deportation based on the severity of their crimes, criminal history, and other repeated violations of immigration law.

It is a process ICE Director John Morton said makes communities safer. 

“In very large jurisdictions in the United States, the rate of recidivism for criminal offenders can be as high as 50 percent or more,” Morton said during a Congressional hearing this summer. “When ICE can come in and remove offenders from a given community, so that they can’t re-offend. Well, guess what? We take that recidivism rate to zero.”

Lopez is less likely to be deported than someone with felonies and misdemeanors on their record, but more likely to be removed from the country than someone with only a couple of traffic offenses.

Since 2004, she has been pulled over six times for a total of 17 traffic violations.

After being arrested last fall, she said she was held in the McLean County jail for a couple of days before being transferred to the Jefferson County Justice Center in Mt. Vernon, one of the detention facilities that contracts with ICE. Lopez said she was transported there in a van with about 20 other people, who were handcuffed and shackled at the waist.

“Along the way, they were smoking. They were driving excessively fast. They turned the radio volume up very high,” she said. “Someone needed to use the restroom…They gave him a bag for him to do it in front of everybody…They didn’t free his hands. They didn’t remove any cuffs at all. He had to do his necessities with handcuffs still on him.”

Lopez said she stayed at the Mt. Vernon jail for about three weeks before being transferred to another holding facility in Chicago for a day.

From there, she was released, and ended up getting a ride back to Bloomington from a stranger she met in Chicago. After three weeks following her initial arrest, she was reunited with her children.

“It was something that I didn’t ever imagine,” she said. “I thought there would be time to go back to my daughters. So many thoughts run through one’s mind because I didn’t imagine it would be this way - that I wouldn’t be able to see them. And when I saw them finally, it was something really beautiful.”

Lopez has an immigration hearing in the spring where she will likely find out if she will be deported.

Bloomington-Normal immigration activist Sonny Garcia said he has heard of other cases where people have been separated from their families for an extended period after being arrested for traffic offenses. Garcia said holding non-citizens at the request of immigration officials can help make communities safer, but Garcia said Sheriff Emery’s department needs to use more discretion when contacting ICE.

“We have no issue with him detaining hardened criminals or people that have felonies,” Garcia said. “The only issue we have is when he’s dealing with people, like Angelina, who are here working; who’ve got families that have lived here for years and years and are not a threat to our community.”

Sheriff Emery took office in 2006, and last year, changed a policy that had been on the books during his predecessor’s time in office. It allowed correctional officers to alert ICE about people suspected of being in this country illegally.

“We decided that it was discriminatory because my suspicions could be different from your suspicions,” Emery said. “So to make it a non-discriminatory policy, we changed it to all non-U.S born citizens the staff will contact ICE for identification and verification.

But that change does not address Garcia’s concerns.

Emery said it would not be fair for him to only report people who commit more serious crimes, like felonies and misdemeanors, while not alerting immigration officials about people who commit minor traffic offenses.

“I’m not going to turn my head, and close my eyes, or stick my head in the sand on offenses that were committed,” Emery said. “How would you feel if this group of individuals we’re letting slide by not enforcing the law, but then you run a stop sign and we issue you a ticket? That’s what selective enforcement is all about, and we don’t participate in that.”

Illinois State Rep. Toni Berrios (D-Chicago) worries too many people are being detained in communities that have this agreement with ICE. She said that is creating distrust between immigrant communities and the police.

Berrios sponsored legislation to put a halt to Secure Communities in Illinois so that it can be further studied. She said she does not believe the practice makes communities any safer.

“How many murders did we have here in Chicago just this weekend?” Berrios said. “Those are the criminals that we need to be going after, not individuals who are here trying to make a better life for their family and while driving on their way to work, making that right-hand turn on a red light.”

In Lake County, which is a Secure Community, Sheriff Mark Curran said the program creates unnecessary fear in the people who are living in the United States illegally, and it does not address a much larger issue – comprehensive immigration reform.

“Whether you’re involved in Secure Communities or not, there is no difference. There is no distinguishing. I cannot emphasize that any more,” Curran said. “We do not see any difference in deportations from when we participated in Secure Communities to prior to when we did.”

Curran continues to honor ICE holds, and he said he has no plans to stop.

"You know, out on the street, these people see their relatives being deported or their friends being deported,” he said. “They seem to think that Secure Communities has become the bad guy. Well, it’s not. It’s an immigration system that’s broken.”

Meanwhile, with ICE’s plans to activate Secure Communities nationwide by the end of next year, there are questions about the rights of states that choose not to enforce the policy.

In addition to Illinois, the governors of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut have stated their opposition to Secure Communities.

Muzaffar Chishti, who is the director of the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute’s Office at New York University, said he does not believe challenging the legality of the program would hold up in court. However, he said voices of opposition can still have some reach.

“You know, these are all powerful governors,” Chishti said. “These are all important Democratic states with important views that will be heard by the federal government is that they will use their power to make sure that the federal government establishes proprieties that only high yielding criminals should be the target of this program.”

ICE director John Morton said his agency has made strides to improve Secure Communities by encouraging more discretion about traffic arrests, and setting up a 24-hour hotline for people who believe they were wrongfully detained or held too long.

“We have a limited number of detention beds, and so the question is do we focus our resources on someone who just came across the border two years ago, as opposed to someone who came across 10 years ago, now has two United States citizen children,” Morton said. “If I have to pick between putting a criminal in detention or somebody who’s been here for a very long time, I’m going to pick the criminal every time,” Morton said.

When asked if ICE plans to sue states that do not comply with Secure Communities by next year, a spokeswoman said the agency has not sought to require compliance into the program through legal proceedings. Though she said ignoring agency requests could lead to public safety risks.

<em>(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)</em>

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September 25, 2012

Burmese Immigrants Awed by Democracy Leader in Fort Wayne

Burmese immigrants who attended an Indiana speech by Myanmar's opposition leader say the Nobel laureate was inspiring and brought some of them to tears.

San San Oo left Burma in 2006 and now lives in Fort Wayne. She says seeing Aung San Suu Kyi during her Tuesday visit to Fort Wayne was wonderful and left her almost speechless. She called the 67-year-old Suu Kyi "our mother.''

Suu Kyi spoke to about 5,100 people at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, an Indiana city with one of the nation's largest Burmese populations.

Han Han Thi of East Lansing, Mich., left Burma in 2002. She says she's glad Suu Kyi called for an end to the tough economic sanctions that Burma has faced for years.


September 05, 2012

Indiana Legislators Want to Defend Immigration Law

Three state senators say Indiana's attorney general effectively nullified their votes when he opted not to defend sections of a state immigration law he said were rendered invalid when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar parts of an Arizona law.

Republican Senators Mike Delph, Brent Steele and Phil Boots are asking a federal judge to allow them to defend the parts of the law the attorney general won't.

The attorney general's office said in July it would recommend that federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker strike down most of the portions of the Indiana law that enables police to make warrantless arrests based on certain common immigration documents.

It said he high court ruling rendered those sections of the Indiana law invalid.

The senators say Indiana's law differs from Arizona's.


August 27, 2012

Illinois, Indiana to Provide Licenses to Some Illegal immigrants

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.

The Obama administration policy, called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.

“As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver’s license,” said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state’s driver licensing.

Illinois Public Radio surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous Illinois Public Radio inquiries.

The states planning to issue the driver’s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.

The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.

Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. “They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,” Haupt said about Illinois. “We require so many different things of our young drivers and — by doing so — they, of course, become better drivers.”

Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it’s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.

The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver’s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. “Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,” she said.

The issue is complicated because most states require driver-license applicants to prove “lawful status” or “legal presence” in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy “does not confer lawful status upon an individual.” It’s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.

States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver’s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to Illinois Public Radio questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.

Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. “We will see battles on this,” Lucas predicted.

Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver’s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.

The law is set to take effect in January, but it’s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure’s repeal, calling it unworkable.

That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: “If you want to protect against identify theft, you’ve got to eliminate the fraud,” said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. “That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn’t mean that states cannot give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.”

Kephart praised Utah, which has created a “driving-privilege card” specifically for undocumented immigrants.

At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.


August 26, 2012

Delegate Has High Hopes for DuPage Democrats

Moises Garcia, 28, isn’t one to sit still when it comes to politics. The DuPage County Democrat is going to his party's national convention in North Carolina, and he proudly talks of knocking on doors and getting signatures.

However, garnering support for the Democratic Party can be a challenge in DuPage County, which has not been all that blue in Illinois.

"When you’re walking in DuPage County, you have to expect that you’re going to get frustrated from time to time," Garcia said. "I mean, I’ve had some doors slammed in my face, you know, and some civil debates, we’ll say."

That said, Garcia said he has seen events for young DuPage Democrats grow in the few years he’s been involved.

"You’ll be surprised at how many doors you knock on and people are, ‘Oh, man. There’s Democrats here?’ ‘Yeah, there’s a lot of us. You’re not the only one,"' he said.

Garcia works as a coordinator at a water softener assembly plant in the northwest suburbs.

He said his parents inspired him to spend so much time on politics. Garcia’s dad immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the early 70s and Garcia worries about the kids of other immigrants who would qualify for paths to citizenship if Congress ever passes the DREAM Act.

"A lot of the DREAMers out here had no choice on when they came and I’m afraid in the current political climate, especially if you see Romney and Ryan win this election, that they will not be awarded the same opportunities that my father had," he said.

Garcia said a lot of his dinner table conversations growing up revolved around unions. His dad was a member of the United Steelworkers, and  when he sees labor losing ground in Illinois and other states, like Wisconsin, it motivates him to get involved.

"My dad always told me, ‘It’s easy to complain about something. But if you’re going to complain, you better get out there and do something about it.’ So that’s what I decided to do," he said.

Garcia said he’s happy to cheer Barack Obama on at the convention, but to him all politics is local. He’s already working on DuPage County races, even down to the contests for Forest Preserve commissioners.


immigrants stand outside Chicago's Navy Pier waiting for guidance with a new federal program that would help them avoid deportation.
Sitthixay Ditthavong/The Associated Press
August 15, 2012

Undocumented Immigrants Apply for Deportation Reprieve

It is estimated that more than a million illegal immigrants could be eligible for a new program available on Wednesday through the Department of Homeland Security. The policy, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, would let illegal immigrants stay in the U.S. and get a two-year work permit.

Among the requirements for the program, applicants must be 30-years-old or younger, demonstrate that they arrived in the United States before turning 16, and they have lived in the country continuously for five years. They also must be a student or graduate or have served in the military, among other requirements.

Bloomington resident Maria Guerrero, 18, is an undocumented immigrant, who came to the United States when she was eight. She is attending Heartland Community College in Normal, and aspires to be a psychiatrist. Guerrero said she plans on applying for the immigration program.

“Well, it’s a big importance," Guerrero said. "I could finally be able to have a good social security. I can drive without any worries. I can finally have a lot of opportunities.”

In Chicago, thousands of young undocumented immigrants lined up Wednesday at Navy Pier for help with paperwork as the Department of Homeland Security began taking applications for deportation deferrals and work permits under the new policy.

Elizabeth Espinosa, a Chicago resident who arrived at Navy Pier hours before the event's 9 a.m. start time, said she was applying so she could attend college to become a registered nurse.

“It means not just equality, but ... a better hope for us and our future children,” Espinosa said. “It means so much more than just a piece of paper. It means our whole lives.”

President Barack Obama authorized the policy after attempts at passing similar legislation failed. Critics of the program have called the policy backdoor amnesty, saying it could lead to fraud. Republicans have called the policy an election-year maneuver that bypasses Congress and favors illegal immigrants over U.S. citizens.

Mitt Romney — the party’s presumed presidential nominee — has talked about vetoing the Dream Act if it were ever passed and has suggested pushing undocumented immigrants, as he puts it, to “self-deport.” Romney has not promised to keep Obama’s deferred-action policy in place.

The election and its possible impact on the deferred-action policy has Chicago immigration attorney Robert Cotter calling the public event at Navy Pier “reckless.” He adds that the immigrants ought to wait to submit the paperwork until they see who wins November’s election.

“We could have a new president, Cotter said. “That new president could undo what’s been done in one day. One signature could undo everything. So I’m counseling my clients, ‘Look, you survived this far. If you can wait another 10 - 11 weeks, you’re going to be a lot more certain that you’re really going to get that work permit and that you’re not going to get a notice to appear in immigration court.’”

That sentiment didn’t sit well with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the principal sponsors of the Dream Act. The senator attended Wednesday’s event and gestured to hundreds of young people filling out their applicants in the ballroom, saying it will be politically unfeasible to reverse this policy.

“I will tell you the force that they are creating is a moral force here, beyond a legal force,” Durbin said. “It is a moral force that, I believe, that as the American people support this 2 to 1, that’s what the polls tell us. They will support these young people being protected. If someone later comes along and tries to exploit the fact that they did the right thing, they did what they were told legally.”

Immigrant advocates and others cautioned that the applications for deferred-action include all sorts of things — fingerprints, information about family members — that would be useful for deporting people.

The Department of Homeland Security says it won’t use such information for enforcement unless there’s evidence of criminal activity.


The Habeeb family
(Sean Powers/WILL)
August 01, 2012

Neighbors: Habeeb Habeeb

Illinois Public Media’s Neighbors series is designed to introduce us all to our neighbors here in east central Illinois. If you have an interesting neighbor you think we should know about, tell us – you can e-mail us at willnewsroom@illinois.edu.

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