<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usSun, 24 Sep 2017 18:18:03 -0500Sun, 24 Sep 2017 18:18:03 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[White House ‘Planning’ on Health Care Vote This Week]]> Sun, 24 Sep 2017 12:00:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whitehouseonhealthvote.jpg

Despite a rushed timetable and the daunting task of pulling together enough votes, the White House is planning on a Senate vote on the “Graham-Cassidy” health care bill this week, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said on Sunday’s “Meet The Press,” NBC News reported.

He claims they are aiming for Wednesday.

“There are millions of Americans who will benefit from this bill,” Short said. “In fact, we think every state will benefit.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who decides when the Senate could address the bill, has said they “intend” to vote this week on the legislation that’s aimed at restructuring the U.S. health care system and repealing some of the signature elements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon]]>
<![CDATA[Key Moments From President Trump’s Alabama Rally]]> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:30:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_TRUMP_RALLY_092217-150613334176900002.jpg

President Donald Trump held a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Friday night to endorse Sen. Luther Strange. Here are some key moments from his speech.

<![CDATA[Madigan Could Undo Soda Tax if County Board Doesn't]]> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 18:12:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Preckwinkle+Madigan+9-22.png

The push to repeal Cook County’s controversial sweetened beverage tax may have picked up a powerful new ally in House Speaker Mike Madigan, as he is purportedly considering legislation to undo it. 

NBC 5 has learned of clash between Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Madigan. If the county commissioners do not repeal it when they vote on the measure Oct. 10, Madigan is signaling that he favors the state preempting the county and passing legislation to take the soda tax off of the books. 

Preckwinkle has made it clear during the furor over the tax that she does not want the state interfering with the county’s decisions on whether or not to implement such a bill.   "If I were them, I'd stick to theirs (and) I'll stick to mine," she said earlier this month.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin released a statement on the tax Friday, calling the bill “bad politics” and urging his colleagues to rescind it. 

"It was bad policy from the beginning and it's also bad politics, and you know the two will create a donnybrook where Democrats will lose races that they ordinarily would win," he said.

Boykin -- who was in Washington, D.C. Friday, revealed that he plans to announce next week whether he will run against Preckwinkle for board president.

"My pledge to the people of Cook County is that we're going to live within our means," he said.

With fire coming from both sides of the aisle to repeal the tax, Preckwinkle may be feeling similar pressure to what former Cook County President Todd Stroger felt when he instituted an unpopular sales tax increase in the county. 

"The biggest problem about the beverage tax is it's not about sugar," he said.

Stroger certainly understands the burden of budgeting, as his hike in the sales tax while he was Cook County board president in all likelihood led to his eventual defeat.  Does he think that Preckwinkle could encounter a similar fate? 

"I think the (opposition to the) sugar tax has some real legs and polls that I know of show that people are so against this,” he said. “Her unfavorables are very high and it's hard to win when people won't vote for you.”

When the political pressure to repeal the tax is added to the potential loss of seats, some experts are starting to believe that the tax will be repealed next month. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Former Teamsters Chief Indicted Again on Extortion Charges]]> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:53:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_111021011775.png

Former Teamsters chief John Coli Sr. has once again been indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago, alleging that he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from a business reported to be the Cinespace movie studios on Chicago's West Side.

Coli was previously indicted in July with extorting at least $100,000. The new indictment goes much further, indicating the payments went back to 2014, and now total at least $325,000.

The government charges say the payments were made "induced by the wrongful use of fear of economic loss from threatened work stoppages and other labor unrest."

In addition to the extortion charges, the indictment lists numerous counts charging Coli underpaid his taxes. The government is seeking forfeiture of $325,000, and barring that, seeks to seize a home in the 1200 of West George Street in Chicago.

Cinespace is a thriving facility hosting many hit movie and TV productions, including NBC's "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago PD."

Photo Credit: M. Spencer Green/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Could You Get a Visa Under Trump's Immigration Overhaul?]]> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:59:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trumpandcottonfeuerherd.jpg

A wall along the Mexico border isn’t President Donald Trump’s only proposal to curtail immigration into the United States. 

Trump also wants to limit legal immigration into the U.S. by, among other revisions, making it more difficult for immigrants to qualify for a visa. The proposed changes to current immigration law are outlined in a bill called the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which was first introduced by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue in February. 

Under the proposed bill, qualifying for a visa would move to what’s called a points-based system. An applicant would earn points for achievements in six separate areas, including age, English-speaking proficiency and whether or not he or she has a lucrative job offer in the United States.

English proficiency is measured by a score an applicant receives on a pre-approved language test. The higher the test score, the more points earned toward the visa. Similarly, the more lucrative a job offer an applicant has, the more points he or she will receive. The job-offer points are measured in relation to the median household income of the state where the job is being offered. Applicants who have a job that is three times the state's median income, for example, will earn the most points toward the visa application. 

Take this quiz to see if you'd be able to apply for a visa if the RAISE Act was signed into law. A total of 30 points are needed to apply.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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<![CDATA[McD's HQ in Oak Brook Eyed as Possibility for Amazon]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:53:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Amazon+9-21.png

Restaurant giant McDonald’s is moving out of its Oak Brook headquarters and into Chicago, but could the campus lure another massive company to the suburb?

That headquarters is one of the rumored possible landing spots for the much-sought after second headquarters for Amazon, which is holding a nationwide competition as it looks for a location to house a massive facility that could create 50,000 jobs and billions in economic benefits to the area lucky enough to land it.

“We have low taxes, low government, low crime, and outstanding public schools,” DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin said.

Cronin says that it is working with the city of Chicago, who is rumored to be one of the biggest contenders for the new facility. He says that if any city in the region gets the headquarters, it will be a boon to the entire region’s economy.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched an all-out effort to land the project, and has floated several potential locations, including the Thompson Center, the old post office, and the former location of the Finkl steel plant.

Not everyone is enthused about the project, as Illinois gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss cautioned about giving up too much to land Amazon’s new campus.

“When states compete with each other, trying to hand out as big of incentives as possible, they get trapped in a race to the bottom,” he said.

Cities in other states are also in on the bidding, including Austin, Atlanta, and St. Louis, but even if Oak Brook doesn’t land the project, Chairman Cronin says the McDonald’s headquarters will not sit empty.  

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Tightens Sanctions Against North Korea]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:51:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump160921_MP4-150602972917100002.jpg

President Trump is hitting North Korea with severe new sanctions and issuing an ultimatum to the world: If you do business with Kim Jong Un the United States will not do business with you.

<![CDATA[GOP Still Split on Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:24:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LV50RWEB09212017_MP4-150600234271200002.jpg

Republicans expect to vote next week on a health care bill known as Graham-Cassidy, named for the senators who wrote it, which would scale back Medicaid. Some GOP lawmakers are split on the newest effort to undo Obamacare, while Democrats are planning for more demonstrations against it.

<![CDATA[Majority Like Trump's Hurricane Relief/Debt Limit Deal: Poll]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:14:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17257451420253.jpg

A majority of Americans support President Donald Trump's deal with Democratic leaders to provide hurricane relief and keep the government open for 90 days, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

More than 70 percent approve of the move. However, the same poll finds that less than 30 percent support his handling of health care, race relations and the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Meanwhile, Trump's overall job-approval rating is at 43 percent, up three points since August. The poll comes after Trump worked with Democrats on temporarily funding the government and raising the debt limit — and after two hurricanes hit U.S. states.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Sept. 14-18 of 900 adults — nearly half reached by cell phone — and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. Among the 741 registered voters who were interviewed, the margin of error is plus-minus 3.6 percentage points.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[What Is Amazon Looking For in Its Search For a New HQ?]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:26:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/20170607AmazonCampusAerials_js_08.png

The City of Chicago announced Wednesday it is seeking nominations for potential locations to house Amazon’s second headquarters.

The online giant plans to invest $5 billion in the new site that will eventually house 50,000 employees – a revelation that has caused cities across the U.S. to engage in a charm offensive to lure the company in.

So what exactly is Amazon looking for? The company says it has a preference for metropolitan areas with more than one million people, a “stable and business-friendly environment,” urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent, and communities that “think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.”

As far as those options go, sites should be ready to develop, Amazon says. They’re looking for a location that has an initial capacity for 500,000 square feet of space, with the ability to expand up to 8 million square feet over the next 10 years. Amazon wants its second headquarters to be within 30 miles of a population center, within 45 minutes of an international airport, no more than one to two miles from major roads and highways, and with access to mass transit on site.

The City said only property owners may nominate a location, and that respondents – who are encouraged to partner with other entities – must have “demonstrated experience and wherewithal” to deliver a project that fits the city’s and Amazon’s requirements.

“We're looking for partners to put their best foot forward and help us determine which sites have the best potential to drive growth for Amazon and Chicago,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “While we have many sites that meet Amazon’s requirements, there is only one city that offers unmatched potential for future success – Chicago.”

Some of those sites could include near the new Google headquarters in the Fulton Market District, the Old Main Post Office downtown, the former Finkl Steel site near Lincoln Park, or even the property of the old Michael Reese Hospital that was set aside for an Olympic Games that never occurred.

A team from both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois headed to Seattle Tuesday to check out the company’s main headquarters, leaving both Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner optimistic.

“I think our team came away feeling like we’re well positioned, very well positioned and we are going to continue to be all in,” Rauner said Wednesday.

“The key thing is they have an idea of what their headquarters of the future would look like. I want to make sure we have an understanding and appreciation of that as we put our proposal together," Emanuel said.

"They are looking for an incredible, world class, skilled, educated workforce… no other city but Boston has what we have,” he continued, adding, “This is where Chicago shines and we are going to shine.”

The City’s deadline to apply is Sept. 27, while Amazon’s deadline for Chicago and other interested cities is Oct. 19.

The company is expected to make its final selection sometime next year, with construction to begin in 2019.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com]]>
<![CDATA[Raoul Announces Run for Attorney General]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:31:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kwame+Raoul+9-20_28974385.jpg

Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul has officially thrown his name into the race as he will run for Attorney General.

Raoul, who represents Illinois’ 13th District, will be one of many Democrats running for the office that current Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that she would be leaving after her term expires in 2019.

“As a prosecutor and legislator, I’ve spent my career advocating on behalf of victims, speaking up for the voiceless and producing real change in our justice system,” Raoul said in a statement. “As Attorney General, I’ll put my problem-solving and advocacy experience to work to ensure that justice in Illinois is blind, never discriminating between city, suburban and Downstate, between brown, black, and white or between rich and poor.”

State Rep. Scott Drury announced that he will be running for the Democratic nomination earlier this week, while Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and State’s Attorney Kim Foxx are unlikely to run for the office.

State Sens. Michael Hastings and Ira Silverstein are also considering runs for the office. 

On the Republican side, only attorney Erika Harold has announced her candidacy. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Chicago]]>
<![CDATA['Scam': Kimmel Slams 'Kimmel Test' Senator's Bill]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:02:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kimmel-Cassidy.jpg

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel sounded off on Tuesday to blast Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy for his part in crafting the latest GOP health care proposal that, Kimmel said, goes against the promises the senator had made to him on his show. 

Kimmel had discussed health care with Cassidy after the late-night host revealed in early May that his newborn son had open-heart surgery to fix birth defects. This led Kimmel to deliver an emotional message to Congress, pleading for affordable health care for Americans, especially those in similar situations.

Cassidy then famously coined the "Jimmy Kimmel test" phrase, saying families like Kimmel's should not have to deal with high premiums, lifetime caps and rate hikes when it comes to coverage. A week after Kimmel's plea, the Louisiana senator appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to expand on his idea of affordable health care.

Kimmel is now claiming Cassidy "lied right to my face" in that conversation.

Cassidy delivered his replacement for the Affordable Health Care Act last week. In a proposed bill written with Sen. Lindsey Graham, states would receive block grants and cuts would be made to Medicaid, among other things.

"This new bill (passes) a different 'Jimmy Kimmel test,'" Kimmel said on his show. "In this one, your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed." 

He claimed the Graham-Cassidy bill would kick 30 million Americans off their insurance and give states certain control over lifetime caps and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office said it plans to deliver an initial analysis on the bill early next week, but can't do a full analysis by the end of the month. That's when a crucial deadline hits for Senate Republicans to act under special budget rules. 

In the meantime, groups including the American Medical Association and AARP have come out against the proposal. 

Kimmel went on to argue this latest bill is "actually worse" than the GOP's previous attempt to replace the ACA. That "skinny repeal" came to a halt when Republican Sen. John McCain delivered the deciding vote against it in the early hours of July 28.

Before McCain went thumbs down, GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also voted "no."

"I hope they have the courage and good sense to do that again with this one," Kimmel said of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, calling it a "scam of a bill." 

"Health care is complicated. It's boring. I don't want to talk about it… And that's what these guys are relying on," Kimmel continued. "Most of the congresspeople who vote on this bill probably won't even read it, and they want us to do the same thing. They want us to treat it like an iTunes service agreement." 

Cassidy responded to Kimmel's heated monologue with a statement late Tuesday. 

"We have a September 30th deadline on our promise," the senator wrote. "Let's finish the job. We must because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson. There is someone whose pre-existing condition will be addressed because of GCHJ. I dedicated my medical career to care for such as these; this is why GCHJ must pass." 

Speaking on CNN Wednesday morning, Cassidy also argued that "more people will have coverage and we'll protect people with pre-existing conditions."

"I'm sorry he does not understand," Cassidy said of Kimmel.

Independent analysts have said the proposal allows states to take action that could raise the cost of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Cassidy said that if a state applied for a waiver it must provide affordable coverage.  

As Kimmel urged viewers to call their representatives with opposition to the bill, he offered one final reason why he renewed his health care debate.

"Before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I'm politicizing my son's health problems, I want you to know, I am politicizing my son's health problems because I have to," Kimmel said. "My family has health insurance. We don't have to worry about this, but other people do."

Photo Credit: Files
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<![CDATA[Who Will, Won't and Might Run for Illinois Attorney General]]> Sat, 23 Sep 2017 15:25:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/potential+AG+candidates+8+tues.png Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s revelation that she would not seek a fifth term in office sent shockwaves through Illinois’ political circles, with several names floated as potential candidates for the high-profile job shortly after the announcement.]]> <![CDATA['America First': Read Trump’s Full United Nations Speech]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:21:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17262554457466.jpg

The full text of President Donald Trump's speech on Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly, as provided by the White House.

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high -- a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars -- they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

the Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution -- the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America's devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope. We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room. It is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face. Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow. And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime's deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator's brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime -- one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran's people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship, fuel Yemen's civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it -- believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran's government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran's people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation's proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime's support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.

We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens -- even innocent children -- shock the conscience of every decent person. No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere. We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President's Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank -- (applause) -- we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell. But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world. In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom. My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal. That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela.

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. (Applause.) From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules. And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government: the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America's strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the "independent strength of its members." If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations -- nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body's founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats -- we can't do it. We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures? Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was "effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people."

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

History is asking us whether we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all: a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the nations of the world. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer]]>
<![CDATA[Lawmakers Arrested in Protest at Trump Tower]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:42:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DACA+PROTEST+TRUMP+TOWER+RAW+-+02000709_WNBC_000000017889024.jpg

New York congressman Adriano Espaillat, City Council President Melissa Mark Viverito and other lawmakers have been arrested in a protest outside Trump Tower.

They were fighting President Trump's decision to end the DACA program, which protected immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. 

Espaillat's spokeswoman confirmed to News 4 he was arrested.

"Since day one, the Trump administration has threatened Latinos, Muslims, LGBT, women, and the list continues. His decision to end the DACA program earlier this month increased the urgency of what's at stake and the lives at risk when we fail to speak out against racism in America," spokeswoman Candace Randle Person said.

Dozens of people gathered at the corner across Trump Tower for the planned protest, holding signs and chanting. NYPD officers were also there in force to control the crowds. 

The lawmakers had planned to get arrested by sitting down on Fifth Avenue and refusing to move. Three members of Congress, along with Mark Viverito, were among the 10 people arrested. 

Organizers had timed the protest to coincide with Trump's visit to New York City for his address to the United Nations General Assembly. They're demanding the president work with Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act that includes a path to citizenship for immigrant youth. 

Trump is scheduled to stay at Trump Tower Tuesday evening, but wasn't present for the protest. 

<![CDATA[Ditching Run for Governor, Drury Joins Attorney General Race]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:40:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/scott+drury+attorney+general.png

Democratic candidate for Illinois governor Scott Drury announced Tuesday that he has instead decided to run for attorney general.

A state representative and former federal prosecutor from north suburban Highwood, Drury is withdrawing from the campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, and instead became the first Democrat to officially enter the race for attorney general.

“Based on my history, both as a prosecutor and as a state representative, of fighting against corrupt public officials and fighting against powerful interests, I believe that I am uniquely in a position to earn the public’s trust and have the public’s trust on day one,” Drury said at a news conference announcing his decision. 

Drury has served in the General Assembly since 2013, and in that time has painted himself as an anti-establishment candidate, often breaking ranks with members of his own party, voting against stopgap budget measures during the state's two-year impasse, a tax on millionaires in 2014, as well as the school funding formula overhaul that was signed into law last month, among others.

“I used to joke when I first got to Springfield and my friends would always say to me when I came back home, they would say, ‘Is it as corrupt as we think it is?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know because this is the scene: I walk into a room, everyone’s talking and laughing and like the record scratches and they all stop talking,’” he said Tuesday, adding, “It’s amazing though, if they just know someone’s watching, the impact you can have.”

He has often vocally asserted his opposition to powerful Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan - who is also the father of incumbent Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Earlier this year, he was the sole Democrat who did not vote for Mike Madigan to retain the leadership position he has held for more than 30 years.

Drury’s announcement came just four days after Lisa Madigan revealed that she would not seek a fifth term in office, sending shockwaves through the state’s political circles.

Her decision prompted Drury’s supporters to urge him to enter the race, he said, adding that he had never seen them so excited.

“Almost immediately upon hearing the news that Lisa Madigan would not be running for reelection, my phone began buzzing,” Drury said at a news conference Tuesday. “People were asking me if I would consider running. They said to me that they hoped that I would run and they said almost universally that what Illinois needs is an attorney general who’s fiercely independent, an attorney general who has experience as a prosecutor, someone who they know is going to stand up against the state’s most powerful interests. I agree.”

Drury praised Lisa Madigan’s efforts in representing the state in civil matters, but said her office has not fought enough against powerful interests “in a state that is historically known for its public corruption.”

“When I am the attorney general, no one, and I mean no one, will be above and beyond the law,” he said. “I will go where the evidence leads, whether it’s the doorsteps of the big banks and the corporations, or whether its room 200 or 300 of the state Capitol, the offices of the governor and the offices of the Illinois speaker of the House.” 

Drury even went so far as to suggest that the timing of Lisa Madigan’s decision was politically motivated.

“I believe that Lisa got out of the race so late because there was a concerted attempt to not have people who can get into the race,” he said. “It’s not easy to run statewide so there’s only going to be a few people who are really in a position to run this race. I happen to be the one person who’s already in the position. They probably didn’t anticipate that when they came up with this plan in a dark room months or years ago.”

Lisa Madigan has not given a specific reason for her decision or its timing. She has also remained quiet on her plans for the future and despite rampant speculation, has said she will not immediately seek another public office.

At least a dozen names have been floated in discussions of who might run for the coveted position she has held since 2003.

“We will see who enters the fight,” Drury said of potential opponents. “Every day there’s a new person coming, a new person going. I’m in.”

The only other declared candidate is Republican Erika Harold, an attorney and former Miss America who ran for Congress downstate in 2013 and announced her intent to take on Lisa Madigan last month.

On the Democratic side, several other lawmakers, like Drury’s fellow state Reps. Elaine Nekritz and Ann Williams, are considering a run, as well as state Sens. Kwame Raoul, Michael Hastings and Ira Silverstein.

They join a wide field of potential candidates that is expected to thin quickly, as they will have to make their decisions in time to fundraise, circulate nominating petitions and campaign statewide ahead of the primary on March 20.

<![CDATA[Vrdolyak, Associate Took $10M in Settlement Fees: Feds]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:31:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vrdolyak.png

A motion filed in federal court Tuesday in Chicago alleges that former 10th Ward Ald. Edward Vrdolyak and an associate secretly pocketed more than $10 million in fees from the State of Illinois’ settlement with tobacco companies, even though they were not authorized to do any work on the case, and in fact did no such work.

It is the first time the government has revealed the largess of the alleged scheme.

“These payments were the product of secret side agreements that were not authorized by the State of Illinois,” assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu wrote, calling the scheme a “large-scale, secret, and unauthorized arrangement.” 

Vrdolyak and his associate, Daniel Soso, were indicted last year on charges of tax evasion and obstructing and impeding the IRS.

Specifically, they were accused of cashing in on the $9.2 billion tobacco settlement in the late 1990’s. As part of that settlement, over $188 million was paid to four law firms that helped with the litigation. One of those firms, Seattle-based Hagens Berman, allegedly agreed to pay Vrdolyak and Soso fees from the settlement, even though they did not work on the case.

The charges carry a potential 5-year prison sentence. Vrolyak has pleaded not guilty.

<![CDATA[Rahm, Rauner Sending Team to Amazon's Seattle Headquarters]]> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 19:45:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+rauner+amazon.png

A team from both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois will head to Seattle Tuesday, as the full-court press to bring the new Amazon headquarters to Chicago continues to heat up.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the joint delegation Monday, saying the group of 10 leaders will be surveying Amazon's main campus "to help determine which Chicago area sites would best fit the company's future needs."

The online giant plans to invest $5 billion in the new site that will eventually house 50,000 employees – a revelation that has caused cities across the U.S. to engage in a charm offensive to lure the company in.

The bids to Amazon are due in roughly one month, which is why the governor and mayor - who often find themselves at odds with one another politically - are working together to offer a united proposal.

"The home run for us and where our real focus is, is given metropolitan Chicago and given the power of O'Hare Airport, our real focus is here," Rauner said at a news conference Monday, fresh from his trip to Japan and China.

Though Deputy Governor Leslie Munger was at Monday's event, Rauner did not mention that she is his point person for the project. Munger will be a part of the delegation, alongside Deputy Mayors of Chicago Bob Rivkin and Andrea Zopp, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and six other business and civic leaders.

Emanuel has made it clear he will personally play a role in the effort.

"We have the universities, we have the aviation system, the public transportation, the lowest cost of living of 10 major cities in the United States, and the cultural diversity," he said Thursday.

Like so many other cities interested in the Amazon bonanza, St. Louis is also preparing a bid. Although he said Chicago is his top priority, Rauner is walking a delicate supportive line in regard to that proposal as well.

"As governor of the entire state of Illinois, St. Louis is also competing and we have major population center in Metro East, we have major strategic transportation advantages in Metro East around the St. Louis area and we will be working in assistance with the St. Louis proposal as well because that could, if St. Louis has some benefits that they bring in terms of their overall package, we want to make sure that Illinois is positioned to be a great benefit of that," Rauner said Monday.

But will Illinois' reputation for chaotic, and even corrupt politics play a role?

"The number one thing we hear over and over again is a quote that frankly Speaker of the House Ryan uses," Democratic State Sen. Melinda Bush, of Grayslake said. "When he talks to the businesses, the first thing he says to them is, 'Do you really want to be in the state of Illinois where they have a dysfunctional government?'"

For now, the delegation's trip is just a fact-finding mission to see what they can learn about which site in Chicago may be the best fit. The city’s bid for the Amazon headquarters is due by Oct. 19, with the decision set to be made next year. Construction on the project - for which several potential Chicago locations have already been floated - would begin in 2019.

<![CDATA[Alabama GOP Senate Candidate Uses Racial Slurs in Speech]]> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:43:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP382302279534.jpg

Roy Moore, the Republican frontrunner in next week’s special Senate election in Alabama, referred to "reds and yellows fighting" in a campaign speech, a video obtained by NBC News shows.

Moore, the ultra-conservative former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, lamented racial divisions in his remarks on Sunday.

"We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting," he said.

"Red" and "yellow" are widely recognized as racial slurs.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dave Martin, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Administration Wants to Increase CIA Drone Strikes]]> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:37:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Mike-Pompeo-AP_17103727968359.jpg

When President Donald Trump visited CIA headquarters in the first weeks of his presidency, he toured the secure floor where agency officers direct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.

Impressed by what he saw, Trump conveyed to incoming CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the assembled agency officers that he wanted them to take a more aggressive posture, according to two current U.S. officials and one former official briefed on the visit.

Soon afterward, multiple sources said, the CIA began carrying out drone strikes that might not have been authorized under the Obama administration, including in Syria, where the military has taken the lead on targeting militant leaders.

The White House granted CIA officers more autonomy to decide on whether and when the U.S. can pull the trigger in various places around the world, including in Yemen, where the military carries out the bulk of the airstrikes, according to four U.S. officials who have been briefed on the agency's counterterrorism operations. The upshot is less micromanaging of targeting decisions by the White House, these officials say.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Mulling Parade to Show US 'Military Strength']]> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:26:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TRUMP_PARADE_091817-150576544939000002.jpg

President Donald Trump enjoyed France's Bastille Day celebration so much while he was visiting France that he is considering a July 4th parade to showcase the U.S. military.

<![CDATA[Durbin Calls on Congress to Pass Dream Act]]> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 20:30:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/11A+Durbin+DACA+-+10235010_28939240.png

Sen. Dick Durbin took his political agenda to the classroom Monday, calling on Congress to pass the Dream Act for undocumented immigrants – particularly those looking to serve in uniform – from a military academy on Chicago’s West Side.

Durbin held a news conference at Phoenix Military Academy to highlight the contributions of recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the policy known as DACA that protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors from deportation. 

Having originally introduced the Dream Act in 2001, the Democrat from Illinois has been as one of the strongest advocates for passing the bill on immigration, reinvigorating his calls for action since President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that he would be ending DACA.

On Monday, he spoke at the academy to Chicago Public Schools high school seniors, referred to as cadets, who function in a strict military-based educational setting as part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).

Durbin said the so-called "Dreamers" deserve the chance to serve, and then gain citizenship. He maintained that he wants to provide a path to citizenship – something not currently available – for undocumented teens through the Dream Act. 

“You’ve gotta look at the immigration status. If a person has a green card, a legal permanent resident, they’re not officially citizens yet and yet many of the branches of the military will accept that and under certain circumstances put them on a path toward their citizenship their naturalization,” Durbin said. “We are talking about a separate category, those who are legally, officially, undocumented, they haven’t reached the green card status."

“I have been pleading with the military, ‘Give them a chance. They’ll be just as good and maybe even better than many that you might otherwise recruit,’” he continued.

"The only program they’ve opened up is the MAVNI program, 800 are moving toward that program but the DACA decision makes it uncertain," Durbin added, referring to the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program that offers a path to citizenship.

CPS CEO Forest Claypool was also in attendance to lend his support to the effort, saying the cadets are the best and the brightest, and the U.S. would be lucky to have them serve.