CHICAGO, IL – Today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined Chicago business leaders and DACA recipients to highlight the important impact of immigrants and Dreamers in the Chicago community. During a roundtable discussion at Microsoft Technology Centers in Chicago, participants discussed the economic impact of legal immigration and the need to protect and expand opportunities for immigrants to continue to contribute to our communities and economy.
During the dialogue, former Director of USCIS, Leon Rodriguez, conveyed the value and energy that Dreamers and other immigrant communities contribute to this nation, the economy and their families. Senator Durbin also affirmed his commitment to support Dreamers and reiterated the urgency of defending the over 41,000 DACA recipients residing in Illinois.
“The DACA program has given hundreds of thousands of young people a chance to come out of the shadows and contribute more fully to the country call home. We’ve witnessed them graduate college, start businesses, and give back to their communities in many ways,” Senator Durbin said. “The need for the Dream Act is no less urgent following the Supreme Court’s decision, which does not change the reality that tens of thousands of Dreamers are losing their work permits and protection from deportation. This crisis isn’t going away, and I will not rest until these young people and their families have the future in America that they deserve.”
The roundtable comes days after the March 5th deadline given to congress by President Trump to pass legislative protections for Dreamers. Chirayu Patel, DACA recipient and Asset Manager said, “I hope that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle can come together to find a solution to protect Dreamers so that I can continue to work on my dreams and contribute to my community. This uncertainty means desperation from the educational conference that I started over 10 years ago and is attended by over 1000 high school students from across the country. However, I am still not deterred and with support of fellow Dreamers and friends I will continue to build my life in the only country I know as home.”
At the roundtable, speakers representing Illinois’ business and tech companies called for Congress to take immediate action before nearly 800,000 Dreamers lose their work authorization and become priorities for deportation to countries they barely remember. Fiona McEntee, Founder of McEntee Law Group said, “As an immigrant, an immigration attorney for over 10 years, and a mother of two young children, I see first-hand the positive impact the Dreamers have in our lives, our community, our country. Congress needs to step up and allow them to finally feel secure in the only place they have ever known as home. Now is the time to protect our Dreamers. Congress must act now.”
The overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers because they understand that they make meaningful contributions to the wellbeing of the social and economic fabric of our nation. They are parents and students, engineers, nurses, and entrepreneurs.
“We are committed to fighting for a permanent legislative solution to ensure that these young people can continue to live, work, and contribute to communities across the United States without the daily fear of deportation,” said David Adeleye, Midwest Director, FWD.us. “Our nation — and these Dreamers — deserve better. 86% of Americans are behind them. No bill will be perfect, but inaction in the face of this crisis is unacceptable.”
Illinois alone stands to lose an immense $2.2 billion in GDP over the next decade if these hardworking individuals are torn from their families and ripped away from the workforce.
Additional quotes from today’s roundtable participants:
“The two restaurants I own in Chicago were built on the American dream. Thinking about how that dream could be demolished because of Congress’ inability to act is heartbreaking. I hope Congress can come to a solution soon for Dreamers so we can continue to contribute to the only place we call home.” – Rick Rodriguez, DACA recipient and Founder, Son of a Butcher and WHISK
“Over 80% of the American people support citizenship for Dreamers. Now is the time for Congress to act to pass legislation overwhelmingly backed by our fellow Americans!” – Bob Palay, Past Chairman & CEO, Cellular Dynamics International
“Dreamers are no less American than you or I. They’ve embraced our values by every measure, they pay over $2B in taxes, they fill jobs in high demand. This is awful for business, it’s immoral to do, and it’s antithetical to all that America is supposed to represent.” – Steven Dyme, Co-founder & CEO, Flowers for Dreams
“Immigrants make up a valuable part of Chicago’s workforce and economy – over 20 percent of all business owners in the Chicago metropolitan area are immigrants. We must encourage those in office to find a solution for the Dreamers who are an integral part of Chicago’s diversity, workforce and rich culture.” – Michael Reever, SVP for Strategy and Government Relations, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
NEW YORK, NY – New polling released today finds that voters across the political spectrum support bold reforms to the state’s pretrial justice system. Voters overwhelmingly support pretrial reforms that keep people at home while they wait for their trials, shorten case processing times, and prevent defendants from taking plea deals before evidence is shared with them.
“This poll makes clear that voters are far ahead of Albany in their vision for what a pretrial system should look like,” said Zoë Towns, Senior Director for Criminal Justice Reform at FWD.us. The call for bold pretrial reform is not partisan or coming from a single area of the state. As they head into budget negotiations, policymakers should feel strong support from their constituents to deliver impactful reforms that will successfully and safely drive down jail populations.”
Support for pretrial reform is strong across all regions of the state, with more than two-thirds of both upstate and downstate voters supporting bold bail, speedy trial, and discovery proposals.Large majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support the proposals and crime victims and survivors show even stronger support for reform than the general public.
Key survey findings include:
About this poll:
Global Strategy Group conducted a state-wide survey of 802 likely 2018 voters in New York between February 8-12, 2018. The results of this survey have a margin of error of +/-3.5%. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the expected electorate are properly represented based on historical turnout.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – FWD.us is excited to join the bipartisan Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR), as part of our ongoing efforts to fix our country’s broken criminal justice system. We are thrilled to stand with this broad and diverse group of Oklahoma leaders in advancing reforms that help to safely lower incarceration rates and create safer conditions for correctional facilities in the state of Oklahoma. This week, FWD.us collaborated with the coalition on a new data analysis demonstrating that the need to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system is more urgent than ever.
Oklahoma incarcerates people 80% longer than the national average and admits 91% more women per capita than the national average, which is higher than any other state for nearly 30 years. The current system is dangerously overburdened and operating at 113% of capacity, creating unsafe conditions for both staff and inmates.
As a part of its announcement, OCJR purchased an ad which has been featured in The Oklahoman and Tulsa World newspapers. The letter was signed by the board members of OCJR to announce the launch of the coalition’s statewide criminal justice reform initiative. We look forward to continuing to work with OCJR and other partners across the State of Oklahoma to support efforts to reform the state’s criminal justice system over the long term.
Below, please see the full press release from OCJR about today’s coalition event.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2018
As state approaches highest total incarceration in U.S., Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform ramps up advocacy efforts
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – With Oklahoma potentially mere days away from becoming the highest incarcerating state in the country, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) today announced new plans for aggressive advocacy for long-term improvements to the state’s broken criminal justice system. OCJR’s long-term plan for reform in Oklahoma starts with legislative approval this session of the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force recommendations.
The coalition – comprised of a broad range of conservative organizations and individuals across the state, including law enforcement officers, elected officials, and business and community leaders – packed a standing-room-only State Capitol event on Wednesday to announce its support for the full Task Force plan and its intention to work with stakeholders on a long-term strategy to implement criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. OCJR’s board of directors also today released a letter, which appeared in advertising in The Oklahoman and Tulsa World, calling attention to the growing problem and urging swift action.
“We are not going away because this issue is not going away,” said Kris Steele, chairman of OCJR and a former Republican speaker of the Oklahoma House. “Being on track to be worst in the nation in incarceration is the ultimate motivator to get all hands on deck to solve this crisis. Our coalition is all-in this session, and for important efforts to come, because Oklahoma families deserve and demand better than we’re getting from our justice system today.”
On Wednesday, multiple members of the coalition reiterated their dedication to evidence-based criminal justice reform policies that save taxpayer dollars, safely reduce incarceration, reinvest savings in alternatives and treatment, and preserve and strengthen families.
“It’s time for Oklahoma to reign in skyrocketing prison growth to ensure tax dollars are better spent while improving our workforce and public safety. Other states have done it, and so can we,” added Larry Nichols, chairman emeritus of Devon Energy Corp.
More than 30 states have passed plans similar to Oklahoma’s that reinvest and redirect resources currently spent on lengthy prison terms in programming to address the root causes of criminal behavior to reduce crime and better reintegrate formerly incarcerated individuals into their communities, while protecting taxpayer dollars.
In 2016, the Task Force made 27 recommendations to address Oklahoma’s mass incarceration challenges. This session, legislation is again being considered to enact its plan, which will save nearly $2 billion by averting the 25 percent prison population growth projected in the next decade. OCJR will advocate strongly to pass the full critical components of the plan.
“These bills stop the bleeding by stopping prison growth, but they don’t save the patient. It’s imperative that the bills have their full impacts included if we want to avoid building more prisons,” Steele said. “We know there is strong legislative will to rise to the occasion even in the face of opposition from those who seek to maintain the indefensible status quo.”
With state prisons at 113 percent capacity, Oklahoma is poised to surpass Louisiana to become the highest incarcerating state in the nation in total incarceration. New analysis by FWD.us reveals that in FY2017, Oklahoma sent 91 percent more women to prison per capita than the national average and held people in prison 80 percent longer for drug and property crimes.
The Task Force’s policies would free up resources for prison alternatives and treatment such as the highly-successful Tulsa-based Women in Recovery program, which keeps women out of prison while holding them accountable as they learn how to transition back into society.
“It was life-changing,” Women in Recovery graduate Kandice Nowak said at Wednesday’s event. “Women in Recovery helped me work through my past trauma and make healthy decisions. The program taught me how to live life as a healthy, productive individual again.” Nowak now works as a peer support specialist at Family and Children’s Services in Tulsa, is married with a son, and recently became a homeowner. “I hope more people can have the same hand up I received through similar diversion programs,” she said.