Local activists work to protect undocumented immigrants in Bloom

Local activists work to protect undocumented immigrants in Bloomington

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Members of the Illinois People's Action group held a 'Keep Families Together' news conference Thursday afternoon,  are asking Bloomington to become an official "Welcoming City" to immigrants.

Activists are working to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants by making sure local police does not become an arm of federal immigration.One woman who works with children says it's important everyone is informed and protected.

"I've been asked to speak with children who are older and who are scared.When I worked with my kindergartners, we would talk about how the school is safe, and we really need to keep that true in Illinois," said Clarissa Castner.

Castner is currently working to protect her husband from being deported. She points out getting married didn't automatically grant her husband citizenship.

"Many people think that being a spouse of an American citizen you automatically get citizenship or permission to be here-- and that's not true. The process can take a couple years," she continues. "And we know with the current immigration policy, if he is suspected committing a crime, it doesn't have to be proven. It could be a traffic ticket,[and] he could be subject to deportation."

The Illinois Commission for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is proposing a 7 1/2 page 'Welcome City' ordinance to Bloomington's city council. Language in this proposed ordinance instructs local police not to act as immigration agents, while still complying with the letter of the law.

"If there is an interaction with law enforcement and an undocumented resident, at the local level,  we think that should be something handled per the ordinances or the state law in the matter. Its not something where immigration should become an issue," said Tom Cullen, adjunct instructor of religion, Heartland Community College. 

The Illinois Commission for Immigrant and Refugee Rights' intends to submit its proposed 'Welcoming City' ordinance to city council at some point in the future. 

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