Lipinski pressured to support immigration reform bill
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com August 16, 2013 10:04PM
U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (left), D-3rd, and Romeoville Mayor John Noak attend a news conference Wednesday to announce the beginning of PhaseTwo of a $4.2-million runway resurfacing project at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville. | Cindy Cain~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 19, 2013 9:46AM
ROMEOVILLE — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster were in Joliet recently drumming up support for an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32 but is in limbo in the U.S. House.
But fellow Illinois Democrat U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd, is not supporting the bill, it was noted after the Joliet event.
Before a press conference last week at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville, Lipinski explained his opposition to the bill, which Durbin and Foster, D-11th, said would double the number of guards and miles of fencing at the border and also give an estimated 11 million undocumented residents a rigorous 10-year path toward citizenship.
“We should have comprehensive immigration reform, I do support that,” Lipinski said.
But he worries the bill would be a repeat of a general amnesty measure passed in 1986. Then, legislators were promised there would be better border security, but it never happened, said Lipinski, who has been in office since 2005.
Lipinski said he believes the House and Senate have to work together on this issue, but he is waiting to see what other House members propose when Congress reconvenes in September.
Border security and a better way for employers to check the legality of workers both have to be guaranteed “before anyone is legalized,” he said.
The Senate bill’s plan to beef up border security is just a promise, Lipinski said.
“We’ve seen promises before,” he said. “Congress has voted before to build a fence. We passed that a number of years ago. The fence has not been built.”
The congressman also said he is concerned about the country’s record unemployment and the growing number of people on food stamps.
“How are we not hurting American workers by having more (illegal) workers in the country?”
Lipinski said he would like to target smaller groups first before opening up a path to citizenship for all undocumented residents.
“I’m a co-sponsor of a bill right now that says if you are here illegally but you have served in the Armed Forces then you get a path to citizenship.”
The “dreamers” group, which is made up of people who were brought here as children by their undocumented parents, should be the next one helped, he said.
Lipinski said he also wants to know how much legalizing undocumented residents will cost the country with regard to Social Security and Medicare.
“The Senate bill only really counts the money coming in to Social Security and Medicare but not in the future the money that will be going out for people.”
While Lipinski has his qualms about the Senate plan, he is getting pressured by his fellow legislators and outside groups to support the measure.
Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, a community action group that advocates for immigration reform, delivered half of a birthday cake to Lipinski’s Chicago office on Thursday to illustrate that immigration reform is only “half done.”
The event marked the one year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s “DREAM” executive order, which allows children who were brought to the United States by their undocumented parents to apply for citizenship. But the order does not include their parents.
Lipinski, who Gamaliel says has “evaded” the immigration reform issue, was one of several U.S. House members across the county to get the cakes.
Gamaliel is in favor of Senate Bill 744 because it is the best bet that something will get accomplished this year, said Alma Campos, a spokeswoman for Gamaliel Metro Chicago. She also wants Lipinski to talk to her group when they stage events at his offices.
“It’s been years and years and he has not been responsive to us,” she said.
While pressure may be mounting on Lipinski, who is a moderate Democrat, he said he will continue to look for a compromise solution that protects the country’s borders and workers first but also slowly deals with the 11 million people who are here illegally.
“On one side, you have people who are saying the only humane thing to do is to legalize everyone who is here illegally,” he said. “I don’t agree that that’s necessary the only humane thing to do here. But I also don’t agree with people ... who say we should just round everyone up and ship them out.”