* The Lake County Sheriff has long been a lightning rod on the immigration issue. For instance, here’s a story from 2008…
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran on Thursday released the results of an audit that showed a fifth of his jail population is undocumented and pressed for the power to deport them.
In the process, he took shots at Cook County, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and politicians in Springfield and Washington for not doing the same.
“The city of Chicago as well as the state of Illinois have shown little interest in cooperating with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” Curran said. Later, he added: “Throw the bums out of Springfield and Washington but treat the illegal immigrants with love and respect.”
* No more, however. Curran has now switched sides…
A churchful of activists seeking state laws to protect undocumented immigrants got a boost from an unlikely source Saturday when Republican Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran told them he had seen the errors of his former pro-deportation stand.
“I was on the other side of this issue, so in essence, a persecutor at one time,” Curran told thousands of activists at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church in West Lawn, standing with House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.
“I cannot think, in good conscience, that breaking up families is something that God is going to look favorably upon in America if we continue to go down that route,” he said as protestors erupted in applause. “My confirmation name as a Catholic is Paul. St. Paul was a persecutor at one point. There was a conversion story. We can stop this silliness of deporting people, breaking up families, and then claiming that we’re ‘pro-family.’ ”
* And even Speaker Madigan got into the act…
The event was held in the home turf of Madigan, who years ago refused to meet with some of these activists.
But on Saturday, Madigan told them he was on-board with their main requests, and they in turn praised him for his support and help in killing 14 “anti-immigrant” bills that have come up in the state legislature.
“We know that if we work together there will be a fair remap for the state of Illinois and we know that if we work together there will be an Illinois Dream Act,” the Speaker of the House said to raucous cheers.
“Everybody in America came from somewhere else. My family came from Ireland many, many years ago,”
He and Cullerton gave favorable forecasts for passage of the state’s Dream Act, which would create a commission funneling private scholarships to children of undocumented immigrants who were educated here. Efforts for a similar federal law, giving citizenship to foreign-born students who attend college or serve in the military, have failed.
* Check out Madigan’s speech…
Madigan Speaking at ICIRR New American’s Rally from ICIRR on Vimeo.
Madigan’s ward is seriously Latino these days and so is his House district. So, it makes sense for him to reach out to those he formerly snubbed. As the video shows, the crowd ate it up.
* State leaders urge fair treatment of immigrants
* Rallying for DREAM Act, immigration reforms
* Immigration activists to march, though in smaller numbers - Frustrated with lack of progress at federal level, protesters focus on state bills
* VIDEO: Senate President Cullerton Speaking at ICIRR New Americans Rally