Illinois Hosts Immigrant Integration Summit

The state of Illinois hosted its 2nd annual Immigrant Integration Summit on February 4, in the city of Chicago.

Free of charge and open to the public, the event was sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights.

This year’s summit was centered around the idea, “One Nation, One Dream.” Main goals for the state outlined during the summit were statewide ESL and citizenship classes and passing the right to a driving certificate for illegal residents. Approximately 1,500 people attended the event.

“The Immigration Integration Summit provides an excellent opportunity for people to learn about the services that are available to them as well as learn how they can become engaged civically in this important election year,” said Lawrence Benito, incoming CEO for the ICCIR, in an interview with CopyLine Magazine.

Attendees were able to participate in a number of workshops on immigration policies, educational resources and advocacy opportunities within Illinois. Workshops on healthcare, early childhood education and deportation were also available. Pathways to U.S. citizenship were additionally examined, giving those undocumented attendees the chance to learn more options for how to become a permanent resident.

Several big-name government officials of the state were in attendance, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. According to ICIRR, more than 50 of the state’s top politicians attended the event.

According to the ICIRR website, the summit closed with Governor Quinn announcing the members of the Illinois DREAM fund commission. The Illinois DREAM act, which was signed July 2011, is a privately funded scholarship program for high school graduates in the state who want to attend college but may not have the proper immigration forms.