Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday joined religious, labor and community leaders at Union Park to call for immigration reform.
Dozens rallied on the Near West Side for the demonstration demanding a moratorium on deportations and asking Congress to pass an immigration reform bill that would change federal immigration law.
The demonstration was one of many being held across the country to put pressure on members of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, according to Monica Trevino, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Quinn and Emanuel joined in on the demands, calling for “comprehensive immigration reform.”
"If you are pro small-business, you have to be pro-immigrant," Emanuel said, noting that half of Chicago’s small businesses began with recent immigrants.
And Quinn agreed, adding that immigration reform is more than just a political issue.
“This is an issue for all Americans,” he said. “This isn’t a republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue about people, real people, everyday people, who come together and work hard and raise families.”
Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka also said the issue is beyond a bipartisan debate.
“This is not a GOP or Democratic issue…this is an issue of human rights,” she said. “We don't agree on everything, but we all agree that the immigration issue is serious. Something has to be done. We have to act. The sooner we do that, the better we will be.”
A group of pro-immigration advocates also planned to caravan to Rep. Peter Roskam's district in Wheaton Saturday, targeting him for having an “anti-immigrant nature.”
"You can't be, as Congressman Roskam says, 'I'm pro small business and anti-immigrant.’ Those two don't go together; they're not in the same car," Emanuel said.
Local advocates plan to continue with demonstrations in the coming weeks to keep pressuring Congress into a vote.
“My colleagues in Washington must continue to feel the pressure,” Rep. Luis Guiterrez said in a statement. “Unless we maintain a persistent and consistent demand for reform, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress might just play politics with immigration and have an issue to run on in their next election and not an accomplishment to point to.”